MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — Must be a sign of the times. The start of the Atlantic hurricane season is less than a month away and the National Weather Service has updated its hurricane preparedness checklist to include face masks and hand sanitizer.
The NWS, which based its recommendation on one issued by the Centers for Disease Control, suggests each person have at least two cloth face coverings and hand sanitizer, if they have it available, for when they might need to go to a public shelter.
However, sheltering people displaced by a hurricane in the midst of a global pandemic presents even more challenges. Limiting the spread of the virus would be even more difficult as proper social distancing guidelines are not easy to adhere to in a confined place.
FEMA has been tasked with leading the government’s coronavirus response, and a natural disaster such as a hurricane could push the agency to its limits.
“In 2017, when you had Harvey, Irma and Maria, that stretched FEMA pretty thin, and some would say past the breaking point,” Bryan Koon, the former director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, told CNN in a recent interview. “But right now, you have a disaster going on in every state, every territory, every county and every city.”
The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30, and the Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and runs through November 30. Since 1851, there have been 292 total direct hits by hurricanes to US mainland through 2017.
Scientists at Colorado State University forecast an above average hurricane season, with some predicting an approximately 70% chance for a major hurricane to hit the US this year.
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