Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is telling residents to be prepared for the potential of Tropical Storm Isaias impacting Jacksonville, which is expected to impact Florida this weekend.
“Even though we have uncertainty regarding the cone you're seeing on your local and national news channels, it covers a wide area, and that's why this is the time to prepare,” Curry said.
The city also has to deal with the factors of coronavirus in the midst of the storm.
“This is a good time and a good reminder that we are in hurricane season, and we should all be prepared and prepared to navigate it in a time of a pandemic,” Curry said.
Related: Current Weather And Forecast
According to Jacksonville Emergency Preparedness Division Chief Steve Woodard, the city has identified 29 emergency shelter locations, although if the storm keeps its current track, none of them will need to be opened, according to Woodward.
The extra shelters account for social distancing measures. In late May, City Council held a meeting with Woodard and Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Diana Greene to determine how much space each person or family would need.
“Without COVID-19, we allocate 20 square feet per person, which really isn't much when you think about it,” Woodard said in the May meeting. “The recommended space multiplies that by about five, to anywhere between 100 square feet, and 110 square feet.”
Woodard said Thursday during a typical storm, only 10 to 12 shelters are opened. Curry added only 1% of people living in areas that are evacuated go to shelters.
Tropical Storm Isaias will also directly impact COVID-19 testing. The state-run testing sites announced they would be closing Thursday evening, and not reopening until next week. However, Curry said city-run sites will still be available.
“We have six city-funded sites open to the public that are only seeing a fraction of the individuals they can handle,” Curry said.
Curry said there are no current plans to expand the city-run site hours in case of an uptick in people they see due to the closure of the state sites.
“I've heard concerns about the turnaround for the test results,” Curry said. “It's important to note that a majority of those being tested at the city-sponsored sites, a majority are getting results within a couple of days.”
Curry also mentioned how important it is to maintain a safe distance from people when shopping for storm supplies in stores.
“People just need to remember when they're in stores - COVID-19 is with us,” Curry said. “Keep your distance, wear your mask, and be thoughtful of other folks.”
Sky Lebron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.