Extreme Heat and COVID-19Protecting Health from Hot Weather during the COVID-19 Pandemic12/1/2020Global Heat Health Information NetworkThis technical brief describes key considerations for decision-makers and practitioners on adapting existing plans, protocols and procedures for managing the risks of extreme heat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Insuring Extreme Heat RisksTed Lamm, Louis Blumberg, and Ethan N. Elkind12/1/2020Center for Law, Energy & the Environment - Berkeley LawThe response to the COVID-19 pandemic—including shelter in-place measures, social distancing requirements, and business closures hads had significant implications for community vulnerability to extreme heat and the ability of local governments to effectively implement response actions. This report assesses the potential for risk transfer mechanisms, including insurance-based or other financial instruments, to address the local government, public health system, community, and other costs of climate change-related extreme heat while promoting risk-mitigating investments.
Public Health and Disaster RecoveryHaunted By Wildfires, A Community Heals TogetherMolly Taft9/25/2020Center for Public IntegrityWashington’s Methow Valley suffered back-to-back wildfires but didn’t receive the federal disaster mental-health funding that many areas with major catastrophes get. Locals had to do the work themselves, and their efforts could guide other communities in the same situation. Figures from the Federal Emergency Management Agency show that the federal government spent nearly $20 million on recovery grants for the area. But even though the Carlton Complex was the largest fire in state history, it did not receive the full range of help the federal government makes available after major disasters. Strong communities are protective against … the adverse effects of disaster,” said Dr. Joshua C. Morganstein, assistant director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. Morganstein noted that working together and improving social connectedness can help people feel less alone in the aftermath of a crisis.
Public Health and Disaster RecoveryHurricanes, flooding devastate SC. Trauma follows. Is crisis mental health care enough?Lucas Smolcic Larson, Dean Russell, And Jamie Smith Hopkins8/28/2020The StateThe country’s primary aid for mental health after disasters is the Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Every year, the program distributes an average of $24 million, or 1% of FEMA’s annual total relief fund, to send mental-health workers into disaster-stricken communities and provide other support. But the Center for Public Integrity, Columbia Journalism Investigations and The Island Packet found that this help usually lasts about a year, even though the psychological effects can linger for many more, and reaches only a fraction of survivors.
Public Health and Disaster RecoveryCommunity Gatherings Offer Healing For Emotional Wounds After DisastersMegan Cattel8/25/2020Center for Public IntegrityIn a fire-prone area of Northern California, convivencias — community gatherings — provide support to Spanish-speaking disaster survivors in a comfortable setting meant to ease the stigma of mental-health care. Wildfire survivors gathered in a local park to discuss their experiences with a bilingual therapist over hot chocolate, coffee and bread. The therapist walked through deep-breathing exercises, stretches and relaxation techniques in Spanish. After attending these free group sessions for several weeks, Garcia (who experienced the 2017 Tubbs fire) felt better. She realized she wasn’t alone.
Public Health and Disaster RecoveryDisasters Are Driving A Mental Health CrisisDean Russell8/25/2020Center for Public IntegrityAs climate-fueled disasters mount, the only federal program to ease the emotional toll reaches just a fraction of survivors. Studies show other forms of federal assistance, like housing aid, are distributed unevenly, exacerbating inequalities and drawing out recovery for communities of color and people with less money. This, in turn, compounds the trauma and emotional burdens of a disaster.
Public Health and Disaster RecoveryHow To Heal Emotional Wounds After DisasterJamie Smith Hopkins8/25/2020Center for Public IntegrityMore than 230 shared their experiences in CPI's detailed survey, and they interviewed dozens of additional people.The main takeaways is to be aware of mental struggles after a experiencing a natural disaster, seek support, offer help, take action, and prepare for next time. As disasters hit with more frequency, communities also face questions about how to organize help in the aftermath. Areas with fewer resources need more support to recover. But too often, studies show, they get less of it instead. Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in Texas, wants to see that change. “We ought to have a disaster response strategic plan designed to prioritize the ZIP codes that we know are going to end up suffering the most and are going to have the most difficulty in recuperating,” he said.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19What Happens When a Pandemic Meets a Heat WaveLinda Poon7/26/2020CityLabThis year is already set to be the hottest one on record. A persistent July heat wave across much U.S. has been pushing temperatures to dangerous levels, complicating pandemic-fighting efforts in several cities that have become infection hotspots, like Miami, Houston and Phoenix. Residents in several cities reported waiting hours in the unrelenting heat to get tested, for example, and some sites were shut down as conditions became hazardous for staff. And as groups of residents flee to air-conditioned indoor spaces, they expose themselves to greater infection risk. Seasonal spikes in heat-related illnesses may not only exacerbate symptoms in Covid patients, but also put further strain on hospitals already operating near or beyond capacity.
Wildfire and COVID-19How wildfires make Covid more dangerousJulia Rosen7/18/2020Los Angeles TimesAs the coronavirus continues its assault on the United States, it’s easy to forget about other hazards. But public health officials warn that it would be a mistake to ignore a related threat: wildfire smoke. Smoke particles can also gunk up the hairlike cilia that clean our lungs, making it harder to clear out viruses. And both smoke and Covid take a toll on the body’s respiratory and cardiovascular systems. “It’s kind of a double whammy,” said Dr. Henderson, who holds a Ph.D. in environmental epidemiology. Together, these interactions could increase the number of people who contract Covid and make the disease more severe in those who do get sick, she said.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Traditional U.S. disaster responses heighten COVID-19 risksAriel Wittenberg7/16/2020E&E NewsTraditional cooling centers and shelters established in natural disasters pose dangers this disaster season because coronavirus spreads more easily indoors.Cooling centers and shelters should create separate spaces for families, make masks mandatory, check occupants for coronavirus symptoms and isolate those who may be infected. It also says shelters should provide "ample" hand-washing and sanitizing sites, with meals provided in disposable containers.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Emergency Preparedness Amidst COVID-19N/A7/15/2020National League of CitiesAs local governments grapple with the COVID-19 challenge, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and other disasters continue to threaten communities across the US. How can local leaders keep residents safe and prepare for these hazards amidst a global pandemic that requires physical distancing and other precautions? This report looks at ways local governments can review local response capacity, improving resident communications, supporting resident preparedness, and planning for shelter during disaster events.
Wildfire and COVID-19California’s Firefighter Prison Camps go on Lockdown as Coronavirus RagesYessenia Funes7/7/2020GizmodoCalifornia’s wildland firefighting crew isn’t what it would usually be this time of year. The state depends on 2,200 incarcerated people to help work the fire line during wildfires. However, the coronavirus is ravaging through the state’s prison system. As a result, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has placed 12 of the state’s 43 fire camps on lockdown, though the department said it has confirmed no covid-19 cases among its incarcerated wildland firefighting units. This may create another hurdle for the state to prevent and stop wildfires in a season where the pandemic is already creating other complications. To make it worse, this year is expected to be an above-average wildfire season. California is already battling wildfires, includings the 1,500-acres Crews Fire in Santa Clara County and the growing Soledad Fire in Los Angeles County. Now, the state has fewer firefighters to help contain the flames.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Pandemic-Resilient Community PlanningTodd Litman6/19/2020Victoria Transport PolicyThis report investigates ways that communities can increase their resilience to pandemics and other sudden economic, social or environmental risks. It compares COVID-19 with other health risks, examines various problems caused by pandemic-control interventions, and recommends specific ways that communities can better prepare for, respond to, and recover from pandemics and other shocks.
Wildfire and COVID-19Firefighters will attack blazes quickly to avoid coronavirusThomas Frank6/11/2020E&E NewsFirefighters plan to take an unusually aggressive approach to battling wildfires this year in an effort to avoid mass evacuations and encampments during the coronavirus pandemic.The aggressive strategy means that fire departments will avoid letting some wildfires burn to improve forest health in the long term. Research has shown that managing fire with minimal suppression makes wilderness areas more resilient to catastrophic blazes by diversifying the vegetation and increasing water storage.
Wildfire and COVID-19Forest officials worried about lasting COVID-19 effectsMark Heller6/11/2020E&E NewsState fire officials told lawmakers yesterday they're worried that the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could rob their wildfire budgets, possibly for years to come. California alone is facing a $54 billion shortfall, officials say. But as bad as that sounds, the chief of California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Thom Porter, said he's more worried about future years. This year, he said, he thinks wildfire operations will be all right.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19COVID-19 Could Complicate Natural-Disaster Emergency Response for Extreme Weather EventsJewel Wicker5/28/2020Teen VogueBoth the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention have released guidelines for preparing for hurricane season with the current pandemic in mind. The advice is focused on how the coronavirus could complicate evacuation and shelters, which are crucial parts of storm response. The CDC suggests adding items such as hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings (two for each person) to “go kits” for use during an evacuation. The organization also recommends following safety guidelines, including social-distancing recommendations, when checking on neighbors and friends or evacuating to public-disaster shelters.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Summer heat and coronavirus: What you need to knowLaurie Goering5/28/2020Reuters2020 is likely to be another of the hottest years on record, with global temperatures forecast to be more than 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average as climate change strengthens. The pandemic will compound the risks of hot weather for many people. For example, the additional strain imposed by heat stress on a person with a weakened immune system can further erode their ability to fight off COVID-19. Cities and local communities should increase the use of telephone outreach programmes for regular check-ins with the most vulnerable during hot weather, the guidance says. Social safety net programmes could also be expanded. For example, energy subsidies could be provided to at-risk households to ensure they can afford home cooling measures.
Storms and COVID-19Imagine Hurricane Katrina during a pandemic. The US needs to prepare for that — now.Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Gary Cecchine, Craig Fugate, and Craig Bond5/27/2020VoxThe Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1, and every state and territory on the Atlantic coast is vulnerable. This year’s hurricane season is predicted to be more active than normal, with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasting three to six major hurricanes. Given indications that the Covid-19 outbreak will continue into the hurricane season, this situation requires a new kind of planning from both emergency managers and the public. Instead of assuming “business as usual,” plans need to be reassessed. For example, this might entail looking at how workforce shortages, delays in material and money, and insufficient hospital capacity impact hurricane response, and incorporating those changes into plans.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Prescriptions for a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19Tedros Ghebreyesus5/26/2020WHOThe World Health Organization issued a manifesto on a healthy recovery that calls for action on six fronts: Protect and preserve the source of human health: Nature. Invest in essential services, from water and sanitation to clean energy in healthcare facilities. Ensure a quick healthy energy transition. Promote healthy, sustainable food systems. Build healthy, liveable cities. Stop using taxpayers money to fund pollution.
Public Health and COVID-19COVID-19, Air Pollution and Health Impacts: An Interview with Pediatric Pulmonologist Dr. Denise SerebriskyMariaa Cecila Pinto De Moura5/21/2020Union of Concerned ScientistsThere may be a link between PM2.5, one of the deadliest air pollutants, to COVID-19 deaths. It may be because patients living in high concentration of PM2.5 communities are more susceptible because they have been exposed to PM2.5 for a long time, and so have more chronic inflammation.
Storms and COVID-19The First COVID-19 Era Hurricane Season Is Here. Are We Ready?Rachel Cleetus5/21/2020Union of Concerned ScientistsA concerning body of evidence already indicates that climate hazards, which are increasing in frequency and intensity under climate change, are likely to intersect with the COVID-19 outbreak and public health response. FEMA—our nation’s lead disaster response agency—is already stretched thin. FEMA has to ensure hurricane evacuation and sheltering procedures will need to take account of the need to practice safe social distancing and other preventative measures to limit the risks of a disease outbreak.
Storms and COVID-19Dangerous Hurricane Season To Open Amidst COVID-19Astrid Caldas5/21/2020Union of Concerned ScientistsHurricanes risk will grow within the next couple of months and potentially company any impacts from COVID-19. Highest risk for hurricanes is usually in states from the Mid-Atlantic coast down to Florida and along the Gulf coast to Texas. Emergency response officials need to develop COVID-19-safe evacuation plans, with safe locations and enforced social distancing, taking into consideration those most vulnerable socially and economically.
Wildfire and COVID-19COVID-19 Collision with the 2020 Fire Season Will Ignite Multiple ThreatsCarly Phillips5/21/2020Union of Concerned ScientistsAbove-average fire seasons are nothing new in the U.S., but in previous years, we’ve had the opportunity to prepare and decrease risk by removing excess brush and vegetation (fuel loads), and training fire management personnel. This year however, many of these preventative and risk reduction activities are not possible, due to COVID-19 response. Both COVID-19 and wildfire smoke affect the respiratory and cardiac systems, in ways that threaten the health of those exposed. In addition to stunted preparations, many of our typical response strategies, like evacuations, planned power outages, and shoulder to shoulder wildfire fighting are riskier and more complicated and no longer tenable in a COVID-19 world.
Storms and COVID-19Climate change & COVID-19 intersect as Cyclone Amphan bears down on northeastern India, BangladeshSimon Wang5/19/2020Climate NexusNew climate attribution research on warming in the Bay of Bengal has significant implications for Cyclone Amphan, especially given the low levels of atmospheric aerosols in South Asia due to COVID-19 response. The study found that during 2019’s Cyclone Fani, rising sea surface temperatures and atmospheric aerosols were playing tug of war, but the warm sea surface temperatures overpowered aerosols. Aerosol pollution has a cooling effect, one that is overwhelmed by the warming effect of CO2 pollution. However, unlike CO2 pollution, aerosol pollution washes out of the atmosphere very quickly. Thus the cooling effect is lost soon after emissions stop.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19How a post-pandemic stimulus can both create jobs and help the climateHauke Engel, Alastair Hamilton, Solveigh Hieronimus, and Tomas Nauclér5/17/2020McKinsey & CompanyA recent survey of top economists shows that stimulus measures targeting good environmental outcomes can produce as much growth and create as many jobs as environmentally neutral or detrimental measures. Their analysis highlights the chance for policy makers to assemble a package that quickly creates jobs and economic demand, produces steady growth, and accelerates the uptake of zero-carbon technologies. Package should include: Low-carbon stimulus spending can spur economic recovery and job creation, identifying and prioritizing low-carbon stimulus options (e.g. Improve industrial energy efficiency through such means as replacing equipment and upgrading waste-heat technologies, Retrofit houses to increase energy efficiency—for example, by installing heat pumps, and develop infrastructure for active transport).
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Scorching Summer to Help U.S. Utilities Mitigate Pain From VirusGerson Freitas Jr and Brian K Sullivan5/15/2020Bloomberg NewsAmericans are likely to get some extra heat this summer, aiding power suppliers that are reeling after the coronavirus crisis hurt demand. Utilities have reported a decline in sales to businesses and manufacturers following stay-at-home orders, with an uptick in use from households partially offsetting it. Above-average temperatures during peak consumption season could further help companies ease the effects of the crisis.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Potential Economic Impacts of COVID-19 in the SCAG RegionDarin Chidsey, John Cho, et al5/14/2020SCAGThe report's preliminary estimates suggest a possible decrease in taxable sales of 26% to 38% over 2020-2021 and annual average unemployment rates of 19.3% in 2020 and 12.2% in 2021. These early figures, generated based on information available as of April 28, are provided as a starting point to catalyze further discussions among regional stakeholders.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Preparing for a long, hot summer with COVID-19N/A5/11/2020World Health Organization - EuropeRecent studies have estimated that the heatwave probability has increased for 31 European cities (European Union capitals plus London, Moscow, Oslo and Zurich), and found that all the investigated European metropolitan areas will be more vulnerable to extreme heat in the coming decades. The scientific consensus is that climate change will increase the heat-related burden of disease if we do not implement strong levels of adaptation. WHO/Europe recommends countries and regions to develop and implement heat–health action plans. These plans aim to prevent, react to and contain heat-related risks to health, and they should include measures for long-term prevention, medium-term preparation and short-term emergency measures. This year in particular, it is recommended that even existing heat–health action plans be reviewed to take into consideration measures in place to reduce and prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Humidity and heat extremes are on the verge of exceeding limits of human survivability, study findsAndrew Freedman and Jason Samenow5/8/2020Washington PostExtremely humid heat that is more intense than most Americans have experienced — approaching a crucial, immovable human survivability limit — has more than doubled in frequency in some coastal subtropical regions of the world since 1979. With the intensity of humid heat escalating, wealthy countries in the Middle East are pursuing innovative but expensive strategies to bring their people indoors, and even to air-condition the outdoors.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19California Healthy Places Index Interactive COVID-19 HPI Resource MapN/A5/8/2020Public Health Alliance of Southern CaliforniaWith the latest update to Healthy Places index, uou can explore community conditions linked to life expectancy across California with up-to-date measures of COVID-19, including county-level death rates by race/ethnicity (where available). Aimed to help support your organization’s response to COVID-19. Categories include COVID-19 case and death counts, COVID-19 vulnerable populations, COVID-19 associated health risk factors, healthcare infrastructure, socioeconomic and community conditions, and race/ethnicity.
Public Health and COVID-19How Climate Change Is Contributing to Skyrocketing Rates of Infectious DiseaseAbrahm Lustgarten5/7/2020ProPublicaToday, climate warming is demolishing natural defense systems, driving a catastrophic loss in biodiversity that, when coupled with reckless deforestation and aggressive conversion of wildland for economic development, pushes farms and people closer to the wild and opens the gates for the spread of disease. Once new diseases are let loose in our environment, changing temperatures and precipitation are also changing how those diseases spread — and not for the better. Warming climates increase the range within which a disease can find a home.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Public Disaster Shelters & COVID-19N/A5/6/2020Centers for Disease Contol and PreventionEmergency managers, shelter managers, and public health professionals are taking measures to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19 among people who seek safety in a disaster shelter during severe weather events. First, find out if your local public shelter is open, in case you need to evacuate your home and go there. Your shelter location may be different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a shelter, practice social distancing and follow CDC COVID-19 preventive actions -- wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, and follow shelter policies for wearing face coverings.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Hot Weather and COVID-19: Added Threats of Reopening States in SummerJuan Declet-Barreto5/6/2020Union of Concerned ScientistsOur new pandemic reality has been made more complicated and dangerous by climate change and the added pressure it can exert on millions of people–e.g., to seek cooling centers, endure a long power outage, flee the path of hurricanes, the loss of life or property, habitats, and ancestral ways of life. This article lists six ways Congress can keep low-income people at home and cool during the pandemic. These includes ensuring parity in energy bill assistance benefits to residents of public housing, eliminating LIHEAP medical documentation requirement, utility shutoff moratoria in all states and territories for the duration of the pandemic, parity in evictions moratoria for the duration of the pandemic, increasing income ceiling for LIHEAP eligibility, and increasing funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Coronavirus could worsen death toll of summer heat waves, health officials warnAnna M. Phillips and Tony Barboza5/5/2020Los Angeles TimesEven before the outbreak, the hottest parts of the country were struggling to protect their residents from summer weather that, fueled by global warming, has become increasingly dangerous. Now the COVID-19 epidemic has presented them with an added crisis — the possibility of millions of people self-isolating in homes and apartments they can’t keep cool. This is an especially worrying possibility for the elderly and people in poor neighborhoods, where residents are more likely to live in older, less energy-efficient homes and less likely to have air conditioners. Rupa Basu, chief of the air and climate epidemiological section for the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, said the virus’ effect could be amplified, in part, because it is killing people at higher rates who are already the most susceptible to extreme heat
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Self-isolating from COVID-19 in a mobile home? That could be deadly in ArizonaMark Kear, Margaret Wilder, Patricia Solís, David Hondula and Mark Bernstein5/3/2020AZCentralIn Arizona and across the country, there are stark inequalities in household capacity to adapt to extreme heat, and COVID-19 will expose and compound these disparities. The impacts of this wicked mixture of insecure housing, pandemic disease and extreme heat will be experienced differently according to income, age, race, and – something that is often overlooked – housing type. Specialized COVID-19 cooling centers must be opened across the state in high concentrations of older manufactured housing. The Centers for Disease Control has already provided governments with guidance on how to do this safely. We can also bring cooling to those sheltered in place with portable evaporative coolers, air conditioners or misters.
Public Health and COVID-19Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Injustice and the CoronavirusKatherine Bagley5/2/2020Yale EnvironmentIn the interview, Sacoby Wilson, who has spent more than two decades focusing on environmental justice issues, talks about why it is important to examine the pandemic through the lens of environmental justice. One reason African Americans or Latinos are dying from Covid-19 at rates higher than the other populations is because of underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. But your diet and behavior is driven by your context. Make changes in communities so they’re not hosting these polluting land uses that can decrease their lung function or their cardiopulmonary/cardiovascular functions, so they can be more resilient to a biological agent like Covid-19. We need to invest in public health preparedness as it pertains to disasters, whether it be the next Maria, Katrina, Sandy, Florence, or Harvey.
Wildfire and COVID-19Preparing for Wildfire Season amid the COVID-19 PandemicSCE5/1/2020Local Government CommissionSCE is doing all it can to reduce the impacts to its customers, including the use of mobile generators where feasible, scheduling work during overnight hours, working while lines are energized, and increasing the number of crews on projects. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, SCE recognizes that PSPS is a disruptive hardship and has been working to reduce the scope and impact of PSPS. However, PSPS will remain one of the tools SCE will use to protect public safety as authorized by the CPUC. The utility is making sure customers are informed and prepared for PSPS and will continue to work closely with local and tribal governments, public safety partners, and essential service providers to ensure timely information is provided before, during, and after such an event is called.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane SeasonN/A5/1/2020FEMAThis document is comprised of two main sections: response planning and recovery planning. While this document focuses on hurricane season preparedness, most planning considerations can also be applied to any disaster operation in the COVID-19 environment, including no-notice incidents, spring flooding and wildfire seasons, and typhoon response. Given the complexity of operations in a COVID-19 environment, some aspects of recovery planning and posture will change to ensure the safety of disaster survivors and emergency managers. Successful recovery will require that FEMA, SLTTs, NGOs, and private sector partners coordinate planning efforts to adapt standard processes and procedures for synchronized recovery.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Restoring the Economy with Climate Solutions: Recommendations to CongressN/A5/1/2020Center for Climate and Energy SolutionsThe economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have battered communities across the country—urban and rural alike. Thoughtful investments of federal resources can not only provide near-term economic relief but also improve the long-term health and vitality of communities across the nation. Some recommendations include: funding for critical rural services, supporting state energy programs, improving city and regional mobility, and promoting tree-planting. Also, as important, is strenghtening resilience. As disasters increase in frequency and severity due to climate change, the costs of recovery will almost certainly rise. Proactively investing in resilience can provide a sixfold return on taxpayer investment by reducing both the impacts of disasters and the costs of recovery borne by U.S. taxpayers.
Wildfire and COVID-19Cleaner Air Shelters & SpacesN/A5/1/2020Centers for Disease Contol and PreventionThe use of cleaner air shelters and cleaner air spaces can result in congregating of groups of people, including older adults and those with heart or lung conditions. Congregation of people in cleaner air shelters and cleaner air spaces can potentially provide a route for the transmission of SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, among individuals using the facilities, staff, and volunteers. At minimum, facilities should have central air conditioning with filtration that is medium or high efficiency, especially at the fresh (outdoor) air intake. Facilities should continue to provide air filtration that is adequate for the expected number of occupants in the space. If available, provide COVID-19 prevention supplies onsite at cleaner air shelters and cleaner air spaces
Wildfire and COVID-19Dems raise worries about COVID mortality among firefightersMarc Heller4/30/2020E&E NewsCoronavirus mortality rates among firefighters battling wildfires in national forests could be significantly higher than for the population at large, the Forest Service has estimated, raising questions about how to prepare for the 2020 fire season. A qualitative risk assessment drafted by the agency said that in a worst-case scenario, the "cumulative mortality rate" for COVID-19 in large fire camps could reach 6%. While the 6% figure is a worst-case scenario, social distancing and comprehensive testing can lower the risk.
Wildfire and COVID-19Climate change and the coronavirus are upending the way we fight wildfiresDon Whittemore4/29/2020Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsOne of the most challenging aspects of fire behavior is that a change in any of the three primary factors (fuels, weather, or topography) can have deadly consequences. A one-degree increase in temperature or a one-percent decrease in relative humidity, for example, does not necessarily result in an incremental change in fire behavior. Rather, the effects are often disproportionate and asymmetrical. As if the task of managing modern wildfires and other disasters hasn’t been challenging enough, COVID-19 adds yet another novel dimension. Fire camps, where upwards of several thousand firefighters eat, sleep, and work in extreme close proximity for weeks at a time, will need to be rethought. Evacuation centers that provide temporary refuge for those displaced by natural disasters, in similarly tight quarters, will need to be reimagined. Wildfire smoke will further challenge individuals with respiratory illnesses and diseases.
Wildfire and COVID-19California Virus War Slams Into Its Other Crisis: WildfiresDavid R Baker and Mark Chediak4/28/2020Bloomberg GreenWith wildfire season on the horizon, but work is progressing slower than usual as firefighting agencies and electric utilities institute new practices to keep employees safe. Los Angeles County, where millions of residents are working from home, at one point ordered utilities to stop work that could temporarily interrupt power to residences, forcing Edison to rethink some of its fire-season preparations. Facemasks have become standard gear. Equipment and vehicles get wiped down with sanitizer on an obsessive basis. Workers take their own cars or trucks to job sites, rather than packing together into one.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19California stay-at-home faces its biggest test: A heat wave driving people to the beachJames Rainey, Rosanna Xia, and Hannah Fry4/24/2020Los Angeles TimesThe County of Los Angeles is urging residents to continue to stay close to home and not crowd into other counties that are gradually opening beaches. While there has been no conclusive research, it’s believed the virus would not survive well in chlorine and it’s likely vulnerable to saltwater as well, said Mark Gold, deputy secretary for coast and ocean policy under Newsom. The bigger risk is people congregating onshore. Opening beaches too soon can have disastrous consequences in spreading COVID-19 amongst the population.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Natural disasters threaten to scatter carriers of COVID-19Nathanial Gronewold4/22/2020E&E NewsThe United Nations is on high alert as extreme weather events start to arrive in the midst of a pandemic. Damaging tropical weather in the South Pacific underscores the challenges of responding to dual crises. Destruction caused by Cyclone Harold has U.N. agencies scrambling to help survivors while working around travel restrictions and social distancing. The unusually strong cyclone devastated the four island nations of Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Tonga; 90% of people living in Sanma, Vanuatu, lost their homes. Last week the world body's chief humanitarian officer, Mark Lowcock, released $2.5 million to assist Vanuatu, the hardest hit. The U.N. Pacific Humanitarian Team estimates that more than 70,000 people need relief assistance in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Tonga.
Homelessness and COVID-19Interim Guidance for Homeless Service ProvidersN/A4/21/2020Centers for Disease Contol and PreventionPlanning and response to COVID-19 transmission among people experiencing homelessness requires a “whole community”external icon approach, which means that you are involving partners in the development of your response planning, and that everyone’s roles and responsibilities are clear. Some activties to consider is to connect to community-wide planning, to make sure that you can all easily communicate with each other while preparing for and responding to cases. Also, to identify additional site and resources. Decisions about whether clients with mild illness due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should remain in a shelter, or be directed to alternative housing sites, should be made in coordination with local health authorities. Community coalitions should identify additional temporary housing and shelter sites that are able to provide appropriate services, supplies, and staffing.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19Pandemic complicates recovery from deadly stormsKristi E. Swartz, Peter Behr, and Edward Klump4/14/2020E&E NewsThe pandemic has complicated recovery from deadly storms in the South. The region is mostly rural and has a disproportionate number of poor people who have underlying health problems. Access to health care can be a struggle, and many rural hospitals have shut down in recent years. EPB in Chattanooga, Tenn., said it may take up to a week to 10 days to fully restore power across its system due to the storm and social distancing measures. Roughly 60,000 of its 180,000 residents and businesses lost power due to storm surge.
Disaster Recovery and COVID-19What if California faces a disaster during the pandemic?Don Thompson4/12/2020AP NewsThere is a disconnect between local and state authorities on who should be developing the guidelines for pandemic recovery and emergency delivery services. To ensure proper social distancing, keeping people apart means officials will need more shelters to house the same number of evacuees who in the past would have been tightly spaced in cots, officials said. More shelters means more staff and more logistical challenges in providing food and sanitation.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19COVID-19 and Cooling CentersN/A4/11/2020Centers for Disease Contol and PreventionConsider implementing or expanding programs that provide utility assistance, such as the low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) or similar methods that provide financial assistance for home air conditioner use. A temporary ban on utility shut-offs during heat waves would allow people to continue using home air conditioning.
If resources are available, consider implementing verbal screening or temperature checks before admitting visitors to the cooling center.
Maintain social (physical) distancing within cooling centers, ideally at least six feet between individuals. Consider separation of furniture and creating spaces for individual family units.
And, if possible, cooling centers should be equipped with air exchange systems, and be located in buildings with tall ceilings. Utilize the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the cooling center’s existing HVAC system, and adopt “clean-to-dirty” directional airflows.
Wildfire and COVID-19How Is the Pandemic Affecting Wildfire Preparedness?Henry McCann and Van Butsic4/7/2020Public Policy Institute of CaliforniaThe economic fallout from the pandemic is forcing the state to reassess its spending priorities. This is generating uncertainty for many programs, including wildfire risk reduction. The financial condition of state partners in fire prevention and forest health—including nonprofit organizations, local governments, and the US Forest Service—is also uncertain. In the short term, CAL FIRE is largely continuing as planned. Implementing entities are encouraging social distancing measures to protect crews from infection.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Op-Ed: Beaches are nature's "cooling centers":Sean Anderson, Kiki Patsch, and Dan Reineman4/3/2020Los Angeles TimesThe current beach closures are giving us a glimpse of Southern California's likely future: one with fewer and smaller beaches. An estimated 31% to 67% of Southern California's beaches will be completely gone by 2100, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Improved public investment on the shoreline can help us avoid losing our beaches. 77% of Californians say the "conditions of the ocean and beaches is very important to the economy and quality of life for California's future."
Wildfire and COVID-19Coronavirus complicates California wildfire operationsJoseph Serna4/2/2020Los Angeles TimesWith the traditional start of California’s dreaded wildfire season approaching, the spread of the coronavirus has threatened to complicate state firefighting efforts. The outbreak has already forced departments to put large training exercises on hold, cancel controlled burns and delay inspections of fire-prone properties in Los Angeles. Wildland fire incident management activities create an ideal environment for the transmission of infectious diseases: high-density living and working conditions, lack of access to and use of soap and sanitizers, and a transient workforce
Public Health and COVID-19Capital Invement Strategies for Improving Public Health, Addressing Climate Change, and Promoting Community ResilienceTracy Delaney and Melissa Jones4/1/2020Public Health Alliance of Southern CaliforniaPHA recommends thataAll capital investments should set aside a certain percentage of funding for disadvantaged communities (DACs), including for job creation and economic stability in the aftermath of COVID-19. In addition, they want to see greater investments in mobile public health and health care units with pre-placed supplies and equipment that can be utilized as alternative care sites to enable provision of health care following addressing climate-related extreme events such as wildfires, floods, power shut-offs, and extreme heat events. Lastly, more investments in the the development of Community Resilience Centers to provide community access to resources and services during climate emergencies, such as wildfires and extreme heat events
Public Health and COVID-19Isolation is hazardous to your health. The term ‘social distancing’ doesn’t helpDeborah Betborn3/28/2020Los Angeles TimesDaniel Aldrich, director of the security and resilience program at Northeastern University in Boston, fears the phrase “social distancing” suggests we should be turning inward and closing ourselves off from friends and neighbors in the outside world. “That’s the exact opposite of what we want people to do,” he said. “You need to have as close social ties as possible when physical distancing is in effect.” Cultivating social connections while practicing physical distancing can keep people from sinking into despair during a time of uncertainty and disruption.
Public Health and COVID-19Is ‘social distancing’ the wrong term? Expert prefers ‘physical distancing,’ and the WHO agrees.Rebecca Gale3/26/2020Washington PostAldrich’s research shows that the communities that survive and rebuild most effectively after disasters are those with strong social networks, which can share lifesaving information with one another. The people and communities that fare the worst are the ones with vulnerable populations who have weak social ties and lack trust and cohesion. Such people — as the 1995 Chicago heat wave, the 2018 Camp Fire in California and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan showed — are often the first to perish in a disaster.
Public Health and COVID-19Why "social distancing," if done wrong, can make you more vulnerableNicole Karlis3/15/2020SalonChristine Carter and Daniel Aldrich recommend a variety of ways to stay connected during this time. Carter said eating with the people you live with, not in front of screens, will be helpful, along with picking up the phone and calling people who live alone and might feel isolated. If you know someone who is more vulnerable, see if you can run errands for them if they can't go out. Aldrich said playing online games with family, friends and neighbors, is a good way to stay connected, too, in addition to using the internet to organize community supplies. Lives are expected to be lost, and this crisis will feel unbearable for many at times, especially those facing financial or emotional hardship. But just because we need to physically distance ourselves from each other, doesn't mean we can't embrace each other in other ways.
Extreme Heat and COVID-19Coronavirus Makes Cooling Centers Risky, Just as Scorching Weather HitsChristopher Flavelle3/6/2020New York TimesThere are two basic ways to help people stay cool when temperatures soar, said Vivek Shandas, a professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University. The first is making it safer for people to stay in their homes; the second is giving them somewhere to go if they can’t. In Los Angeles, Aram Sahakian, director of the city’s emergency management department, is trying to make cooling centers as virus-proof as possible. Cooling centers in LA were open under strict conditions: Anyone trying to get in had their temperature taken. People were then given masks, which they had to wear at all times, as well as gloves and sanitizer. And security staff made sure people stayed at least six feet apart.
Extreme HeatFuture Extreme Heat in California’s San Joaquin ValleyPablo Ortiz11/20/2019Union of Concerned ScientistsThe San Joaquin Valley – growing much of the nation’s fruits and nuts – is one of the wealthiest farm regions in the US, but one that is also challenged by high rates of poverty. In addition to these opposing socioeconomic dynamics, it is among the fastest growing regions in California. But population numbers are not all that will rise. Temperature and precipitation extremes will increase in frequency and severity as a result of unabated climate change
Extreme HeatKiller Heat Interactive ToolN/A7/8/2019Union of Concerned ScientistsTool shows the rapid increases in extreme heat projected to occur in locations across the US due to climate change. Results show the average number of days per year above a selected heat index, or “feels like” temperature, for three different time periods: historical, midcentury, and late century.