Healthcare Ready - Threat Assessment Report

August 26, 2020

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The purpose of this notification is to provide a brief assessment of the potential threats to healthcare and public health posed by Hurricane Laura and the California Wildfires. 

Healthcare Ready is sharing the following summary assessment of Hurricane Laura and the California Wildfires, and associated resources to assist in threat mitigation and potential response. Additional threat assessments or situation reports may be shared as this situation evolves.


Hurricane Laura 

Situation Overview

As of August, 26, Hurricane Laura has strengthened to a Category 4 storm expected to cause severe storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding along the Gulf Coast starting Wednesday night. 

Primary direct threats:
  • Heavy rain and storm surge may result in flash flooding in impacted areas. Flooding is expected to impact transportation infrastructure, potentially disrupting product or patient movement depending on the extent of impacts. The most severe flooding will occur along the immediate coast but may extend 30 miles inland towards Southwestern Louisiana and Southeastern Texas.
    • Expected rainfall through Friday is 5 to 10 inches, with isolated maximums of 15 inches from western Louisiana to eastern Texas, and north into Arkansas.
  • Hurricane force winds, along with isolated tornadoes could damage energy infrastructure as well as buildings, which could result in the loss of power.
  • Port Closures: The Port of Houston’s terminals will be closed 8/26 and 8/27 due to weather, although this is subject to change.
    • Alt this time, there are no reported impacts due to this closure.
    •  Updates regarding terminal operations can be found here.

Compounding Impacts of COVID-19

Most counties currently in the direct path of one or both storms have at least 100 active cases of COVID-19. Hurricane Laura threatens to exacerbate ongoing outbreaks in these areas by disrupting COVID-19 testing and potentially increasing spread of the disease in locations such as shelters.
  • COVID-19 testing: Hurricane Laura will impact COVID-19 testing site operations in Louisiana and Texas. Louisiana has closed all state supported COVID-19 testing sites through Friday. Impacts from the storm, including flooding and damage to facilities, may further disrupt testing capacity and patient transportation to testing sites in these regions throughout the week.
    • Although testing may slow in Texas, the Texas Department of Emergency Management has stated they plan on sending testing teams to shelters.
  • Sheltering: Precautions are in place to help prevent spread of the virus in shelters.
    • Cities like Austin, TX will begin accepting evacuees due to mandatory evacuation orders. In order to follow COVID-19 procedures, the city of Austin will receive evacuees in a main staging location, where evacuees will be assigned a shelter. 
    • Beauregard Parish in Louisiana has opened a "shelter of last resort". Evacuees have been informed to bring their own bedding, toiletries, and medications. Additionally individuals will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked.
    • Most Louisiana and Texas shelters will be managed by the Red Cross. A map of Red Cross shelters can be located here. The Red Cross is taking precautions to safely manage hurricane shelters during COVID-19. More information on their COVID-19 sheltering precautions can be found here.
  • Evacuations: Mandatory evacuations have been given for the following locations:
    • Louisiana:
      •  Calcasieu Parish, Cameron Parish, Plaquemines Parish 
    • Texas: 
      • Southeast Texas (Galveston and Port Arthur)
      • Orange County, Harris County, Newton County, Hardin County, Jefferson County 
Map - COVID-19 Case Counts and Path of Hurricane Laura
Dark orange: 100+ active COVID-19 cases
Light orange: 25- 00 active cases
Blue: 10 - 24 active cases 
Purple: Fastest growing counties

State Healthcare Infrastructure Exposure and Risk Profile

  • Texas
    • Healthcare facilities: Due to its large population, Texas has a large concentration of healthcare facilities, especially in coastal cities, including hospitals, pharmacies, dialysis facilities, certified nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities. The Houston metro area has a particularly large degree of facility concentration.
    • Pharmaceutical and medical-surgical manufacturing: Texas has a number of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities as well as a significant PPE manufacturing footprint. Most of this activity is inland, though Houston does have some pharmaceutical manufacturing locations that may be impacted by these storms.
  • Louisiana
    • Healthcare facilities: Louisiana has far fewer healthcare facilities compared to Texas, and most facilities are concentrated in the most populated areas of the state, including New Orleans and Shreveport. There are far fewer facilities, including dialysis centers and pharmacies, in the less-populated areas of the state.
      • As a result, patient access to care could be severely impacted if just a few facilities in such areas (including southwestern parishes, which are currently in the path of both storms) are impacted.
    • Pharmaceutical and medical-surgical manufacturing: Louisiana does not have a significant pharmaceutical manufacturing or PPE manufacturing footprint.

California Wildfires

Multiple ongoing fires are affecting the entire state of California. As of August 26, five major fires are impacting California. Fire activity in the west has cause an increased demand for fire personnel and equipment, including PPE. 

Situation Overview
  • SCU Lightning Complex, in 5 counties including Santa Clara, Alameda, and Stanislaus Counties, was started on August 18, and as of August 26 had burned 365,772 acres and was 25% contained.
    • The fires have caused evacuation orders and warnings in certain affected areas.
  • LNU Lightning Complex, in 5 counties including Napa, Sonoma, and Solano Counties, was started on August 17, and as of August 26 had burned 357,046 acres and was 33% contained.
    • The fires have caused evacuation orders and warnings in affected areas.
  • CZU Lightning Complex, in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties, was started on August 16, and as of August 25 had burned 79,640 acres and was 19% contained.
    • The fires have caused evacuation orders and warnings in certain affected areas.
  • Butte/Tehama/Glenn Lightning Complex, in Tehama County, was started on August 19, an as of August 26 had burned 50,800 acres and was 22% contained.,
    • The fires have caused evacuation orders and warnings in certain portions of the affected areas.
  • River Fire, in Monterey County, was started on August 16, and as of August 26 had burned 48,424 acres and was 48% contained.
    • The fire has caused evacuation orders and warnings in certain affected areas.
State Healthcare Infrastructure and Risk Profile
  • Healthcare facilities: California has a large concentration of healthcare facilities including hospitals, pharmacies, dialysis facilities, certified nursing facilities, and assisted living centers across the state.
  • Pharmaceutical and medical-surgical manufacturing: California is a major hot spot for the US pharmaceutical manufacturing industry and contains the largest concentration of personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing sites in the West. 
    • Ongoing fires in the region may threaten the production or movement of critically needed PPE during the ongoing pandemic. 
Healthcare Ready
Healthcare Ready leverages unique relationships with government, nonprofit and medical supply chains to build and enhance the resiliency of communities before, during and after disasters.
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