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Ala. officials say state is prepared for hurricane season during pandemic

 Pam Heckstall surveys the damage as the remnants of Hurricane Michael move through Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. She is not able to leave her street due to downed trees. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Pam Heckstall surveys the damage as the remnants of Hurricane Michael move through Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. She is not able to leave her street due to downed trees. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (KY3)
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 9:24 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Severe weather is no stranger to Alabama but precautions may look different this year as officials try and keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are several more months of hurricane season. State EMA Director Brian Hastings said shelters for evacuees will be available but will look a different. He said people will be screened before entering, and there will be social distancing and mask wearing.

“If you do have a high temperature then you’ll have to be partitioned out and isolated,” Hastings said. “You want to make sure you keep the rest of the shelter population safe.”

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the state will not turn away people even if they can’t social distance in a shelter.

“If people need shelter, they need shelter and we understand that and we’ll certainly just try to make all possible accommodations we can to prevent disease transmission,” Harris said. “No one’s going to be turned away.”

Hastings says some counties have been on the lookout for buildings that provide more space for people to social distance. So instead of using large rooms, they are looking for locations with several smaller rooms.

“They’ve changed the way that they’re thinking of this instead of you know, going to gymnasiums and auditoriums and stuff, go to the classrooms,” Hastings said.

Harris says the Alabama Department of Public Health is on the hunt for more personal protective equipment. ADPH already distributed its stock pile of equipment for natural disasters throughout the last six months because of the pandemic.

“But you know, just like every other healthcare entity, we’re having trouble finding what we need just because every organization is competing for that same limited supply,” Harris said.

Both officials say the state is prepared to handle the severe weather.

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Original Story: https://www.wsfa.com/2020/08/24/ala-officials-say-state-is-prepared-hurricane-season-during-pandemic/

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