COVID-19 adding complexity to emergency planning for hurricane season

Apr 17, 2020

Source: Panama City News Herald
By: Jim Thompson

Like his counterparts across the region and the state, Walton County Emergency Management Director Jeff Goldberg has been planning for the upcoming hurricane season with a new and significant variable in place — the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

As is the case every year, hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. This year, however, emergency management planning for hurricane season is ongoing as the state has issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order effective through April 30, with the potential for extension.

Layered on top of those dates is another date — May 8. That’s when the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that Florida will reach its peak of COVID-19 hospital admissions, at 20.8 people per million of state population.

Already, as a result of the COVID-19 spread, Walton County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), nerve center of local hurricane response, is operating at Level 2. That’s just below a Level 1 complete activation of the center, Goldberg explained.

The current Level 2 activation, even though it is outside of hurricane season, provides a hint as to how COVID-19 would shape a Level 3 activation, according to Goldberg. Continue reading.

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