As Florida slowly reopens, officials are now contemplating what they should do if the coronavirus outbreak lingers into hurricane season, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and usually peaks from late August through September. Florida is often a target for storms, forcing thousands of people to evacuate with many fleeing to shelters.
“We don’t know how the virus is going to react as we move into these various stages. We don’t know what it’s going to look like a month from now, three months from now, but we have to assume that it’s going to be with is in some capacity, so how do you deal with hurricane issues?” DeSantis said at a news conference in Sarasota.
Florida has had more than 37,000 confirmed coronavirus cases resulting in nearly 1,500 deaths. DeSantis partially lifted his “safer at home” order Monday, allowing restaurants and retail shops to begin operating at 25% capacity.
“This virus really thrives and transmits when you have close sustained contact with people inside an enclosed environment,” DeSantis said. “As you’re looking at sheltering for a hurricane, you have to keep that in mind. If you pile people into a place, under normal circumstances that may be fine, but that would potentially allow the virus to really spread if somebody is in fact infected.”
Florida emergency management Director Jared Moskowitz is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on potential changes to how the state handles evacuations and sheltering.
Moskowitz said that might include shelters that only accept people infected with the virus, or orders for people to shelter in place depending on the strength of the building and the power of the storm.
“We’re going to do more non-congregate sheltering instead of mass congregate sheltering,” he said.
Moskowitz also said the state will stockpile personal protective equipment in preparation for the storm season, including 10 million masks.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.