It is hurricane season for the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Seaboard region of the USA. Locales such as Houston, Texas and Corpus Christi, Texas are no exception to this rule. This was proven to be so when Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area in August 2017.
Hurricane Hanna has made landfall on South Padre Island, as of July 25, 2020. This is the first hurricane for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season to make landfall in the USA. Hurricane Hanna is the first Atlantic hurricane for the 2020 Hurricane Season.
It goes without saying that the damage from this hurricane will be immense. Given what happened with the Houston metropolitan area after Hurricane Harvey passed through the region, this is a given. However, what will make this hurricane especially bad isn’t just the amount of damage that could be done. It will be the aftermath with the Covid-19 pandemic in mind.
Covid-19 has made its presence hauntingly known throughout the United States of America. And thus far, Texas has had one of the highest spikes of Covid-19 cases in the USA over the month of July 2020. Corpus Christi, as well as other parts of southern Texas, have been hit very hard by this pandemic. Houston, San Antonio, and Austin as well. This hurricane will indeed cause a large amount of destruction, and it won’t be surprising that deaths will take place. At the same time, there is an element of medical geography that must be considered.
Resources are already strained at the moment in terms of dealing with Covid-19. There are already several hazards that come with hurricanes in terms of public health. Drowning is a major problem. Very often, it happens when people try to drive. Being exposed to mold (after the hurricane has passed) is another problem. The water supply has a high risk of being contaminated. If water contamination does occur, this will make people sick, sometimes with deadly results. With Covid-19 raging, a hurricane will exacerbate the problem. With structural damage to facilities such as hospitals, and the injuries already associated with hurricanes, this will put even more strain on an already stretched medical system.
And then there is Covid-19 itself. With resources already stretched in treating Covid-19, a hurricane will strain those resources even more. The fatality rate for Covid-19 has a high likelihood of rising as a result. There are other issues to consider. Many precautions have to be made in order to keep Covid-19 from spreading. Under normal circumstances, going to stay with family members elsewhere might not be an issue. However, under the current pandemic, many people might think twice about this. This is particularly the case if there are family members with pre-existing conditions or elderly individuals.
Another issue is evacuating people to shelters when that situation arises. It is hard enough dealing with crowded spaces under normal conditions. However, under the Covid-19 pandemic, this will present more problems. Extra pre-cautions have to be taken to make sure social distancing is adhered to. Some people might refuse to adhere to the pre-cautions needed to prevent getting (or passing on) Covid-19, such as wearing a mask and keeping a distance of 6 feet between themselves and others. And in crowded conditions, this will be difficult to do. If the proper precautions don’t take place, the chances for another spike in Covid-19 cases, and Covid-19 deaths is very high.
Hurricane Hanna making landfall has many implications for the region of South Texas. It won’t just be the damage that takes place. It will be the current health crisis taking place that will also be a major issue. And this will require immense preparation. It involves looking at medical geography. It involves a spatial outlook on a pandemic, and on weather.