As if there wasn’t enough to worry about during the coronavirus pandemic, some areas of the US are now preparing for hurricane season.
And in a sign of the times, the National Weather Service has updated its hurricane preparedness checklist to include two new items: a face mask 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, according to the NOAA. 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.
There are are at least 1,166,083 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, and at least 67,913 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
CNN’s Drew Kann, Leyla Santiago, Priscilla Alvarez, Harmeet Kaur, Judson Jones and Amanda Watts contributed to this report.