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Houston experts’ tips on preparing for hurricane season during pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Forecasters are predicting a very active hurricane season. As we keep our eye on the gulf, health and government officials also have something else to keep in mind, COVID-19.

Houston firefighters have been treating and transporting COVID-19 patients for months, with extra precautions. Now, add a tropical storm or a hurricane to that and things get more complicated.

“Certainly a hurricane or a situation where we’re having to evacuate a large amount of people, and then find a shelter for them, and treat them beyond the evacuation is certainly going to be a huge game-changer for us,” Chief Samuel Pena of the Houston Fire Department said.

HFD is having constant communications with the Red Cross and county partners to ensure they’re prepared.

If there are evacuations, HFD says they are in a good position.

In fact, since Harvey HFD has added 10 high water rescue vehicles. They have 20 boats, jet skis, and an 80 member water strike team to respond.

“We’ve established an 80 member water strike team and these are personnel that we’ve outfitted with dry suits and equipment and training,” Pena said.

Pena is asking citizens to be prepared too and to add masks to their go-kits. One way to prepare is knowing the areas that flood.

“We know we flood. We know there are certain areas that are more prone to flooding,” said Pena.

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services says there are certain COVID-19 related protocols in place.

“We actually recently went through this with Hurricane Isaias, where we were able to implement with FEMA and our local authorities, different COVID related hurricane protocol. Always, I say to folks, listen to your governor, your mayor, your local authorities,” Secretary Alex Azar, Health and Human Services.

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