WASHINGTON - Earlier today, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor spoke to Good Morning America about actions Americans can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and how the agency is prepared for hurricane season.
Gaynor said everyone needs to do four basic things to help crush the virus.
“Wear a mask. Wear a mask not for yourself, but for the person that’s next to you,” he said. “Have good hygiene, wash your hands, use social distancing and keep out of crowded bars and overcrowded dining rooms. If you can do those four basic things, we can all crush the virus.”
The interview this morning occurred as three tropical systems are gathering strength in the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coast. FEMA is working with state, local, tribal and federal partners to prepare for potential landfall.
“The agency has been up and running and dealing with COVID-19, but we also have been preparing for the hurricane season,” Gaynor said. “We put out operational guidance to those in the hurricane-prone locations across the U.S. to make sure they adapt their plans and their procedures to deal with…a hurricane while dealing with COVID-19.”
Residents of the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast, Florida and Hawaii should monitor these storms and listen to instructions from their local officials. Residents should take precautions now and visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for additional tips and information, and download the FEMA app (in English or Spanish) for a checklist of emergency supplies, survival tips and weather alerts.
FEMA’s Regional offices in Atlanta, Denton, Texas and Oakland, California are monitoring Tropical Storm Gonzalo, Tropical Depression 8 (possible Storm Hanna) and Hurricane Douglas. FEMA is actively engaging with state emergency management partners to ensure they have the resources they need to respond to these storm systems.
To support an effective locally executed, state-managed and federally supported response to disasters occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA released the “COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season” and the “Mass Care/Emergency Assistance Pandemic Planning Considerations” to help emergency managers and public health officials prepare to respond to a disaster while maintaining the health and well-being of survivors and workers.
While COVID-19 presents unique challenges, FEMA has already responded to floods and tornadoes during the pandemic, adapting operations to maintain public health and safety while also ensuring that eligible disaster survivors receive assistance. FEMA has enhanced protocols in place where FEMA personnel will be on site. This includes social distancing, disinfecting, the use of face coverings and other protections. FEMA’s adaptations also include remote inspections of disaster-damaged housing, establishing virtual Joint Field Offices and providing online training for FEMA staff and state, local and tribal partners.