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‘COVID or no COVID,’ some Central Florida residents will need to evacuate if hurricane comes

Face coverings will be required in shelters

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Hurricane season is here and so is COVID-19 but the message is still the same.

“People in evacuation zones, COVID or no COVID, will need to evacuate if a storm threats,” said Craig Fugate, former FEMA director and Florida Emergency Management director.

Volusia and Flagler Counties both have pandemic sheltering plans in place. County leaders said residents should be equipped with their own personal protective equipment because face coverings will be required in a shelter.

“We will have hand sanitizer, provide some back up masks and doing temperature checks and routine cleaning of the facility,” said Volusia County Emergency Management director Jim Judge.

Judge also said the county will be utilizing more of their 34 shelters to follow social distancing guidelines and partnered with hotels if someone has COVID-19.

“If we do have individuals who are positive but are asymptomatic, then we can place those folks in a hotel room,” Judge said.

Flagler County Emergency Management director Johnathan Lord also discussed the county’s plans for hurricane season. He said residents will go through a screening process, like in Volusia County, before entering a shelter and have daily temperature checks.

“We are going to be increasing spacing between every evacuee in the shelter. We’ll have personal protective equipment for staff and volunteers, as well as face masks for evacuees if they don’t bring their own,” Lord said.

Both counties will have routine cleaning throughout the shelters. Lord said if someone shows up to the shelter with COVID-19, they will not be turned away.

“We will set aside certain areas within the shelters to make sure that they can evacuate safely, as well as not put any other people in the shelter at risk,” Lord said.

Both counties said it’s imperative for all residents to prepare and plan now, for what’s being called an above-average hurricane season.


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