The head of the Georgia Hospital Association is warning of a “triple threat” this fall between with COVID-19, the flu and hurricane season.
In a news release, Earl Rogers, President and CEO of the Georgia Hospital Association, said at the outset of the COVID pandemic, he had hoped COVID infection numbers would gradually decrease “but spring brought virus surges, hot spots, too many new cases, and a spike after Memorial Day when people let their guard down.”
Now, he said, the COVID pandemic will be extending into the peak seasons for both influenza and hurricanes.
“Yet, we still had hope that going into late summer, we’d see a sharp decline in the COVID-19 numbers. While the number of cases is, fortunately, holding steady, we never saw the plummet in numbers we so desperately sought,” Rogers said in the release. “As we press onward, more knowledgeable, and better equipped to battle COVID-19, we now face two additional threats entering the fall: influenza outbreaks and peak hurricane season.”
Rogers said while the GHA recommends getting flu shots each year, this year would be especially important.
“During this once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic, hospitals cannot afford to be overwhelmed with something as preventable as the flu,” he said. “Hospitals and our front-line health care providers are working tirelessly 24/7 to ensure adequate bed capacity for the treatment of current and potential COVID-19 patients. We still can’t predict exactly what will happen with COVID-19, but we know we can protect ourselves from the flu.”
As Hurricane Sally made landfall on the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, Rogers said severe hurricanes could lead to supply issues for water, first aid supplies and other items.
“With emergency preparedness plans looking very different in the wake of COVID-19, we must all take the necessary extra time to prepare emergency food, water, and other supplies,” he said. “For example, with in-person shopping at a minimum, consider that it could become necessary to order many crucial staples and medications through delivery, which could take a little longer.”
Common precautions against COVID could also be impacted by the hurricanes.
Rogers recommended hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and masks be part of emergency kits and said while staying home had been one of the key recommendations to prevent the spread of the disease, that would not be possible during evacuations.
To help mitigate issues with the flu, COVID-19 and hurricane season, Rogers and the GHA recommended:
- Wearing masks;
- Social distancing at least six feet from those outside the household ad limiting the size of gatherings;
- Washing hands frequently and avoiding touching eyes, noses and mouths;
- Getting a flu shot;
- And building emergency preparedness kits with and allowing enough time to get medication and supplies.