Tuesday 2 June, 2020

COVID-19 considerations during hurricane season explored

"COVID-19 is not going to go away when hurricane season starts," said Cayman's Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service, Franz Manderson at the introductory session of The National Hurricane Exercise yesterday.

The exercise is conducted annually to evaluate and revise hurricane preparedness plans amongst Cayman's emergency response teams.

This year, particular attention will be given to how COVID-19 considerations will be incorporated into plans. "How we prepare now is completely different to how we prepared last year," confirmed the Deputy Governor.

Some of the unique considerations raised by Danielle Coleman, Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands, included:

- Shelters that maintain social distancing

- The elderly and their vulnerability to COVID-19

- Individuals avoiding shelters because of fears of catching COVID, despite the fact that their homes are not strong enough to withstand hurricanes

- Communications

- Supply chain issues which are prevalent during COVID-19 (including the possibility of a hurricane hitting Florida and further impacting access to medical supplies from the United States, as raised by Matthew Forbes, head of the Governor's office)

- Alternate COVID-19 testing facilities in the event of floods of other types of destruction

Of particular concern has been the shelter capacity on the Cayman Islands, as according to Danielle Coleman, Cayman currently has only about 8 per cent shelter capacity.

Cayman activated the National Emergency Operations Centre structure in response to coronavirus, 78-days ago, which has provided added resilience to the country for the impending hurricane season. 

"We've never been as ready for a hurricane season as we are now," confirmed Minister of Financial Services and Home Affairs, the honourable Tara Rivers.

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