June 13, 2021

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Fear of COVID keeps Puerto Ricans away from shelters in case of hurricane


San Juan. The fear of contracting COVID-19 leads almost 60% of Puerto Ricans not to seek refuge in case a hurricane of intensity were to impact the Caribbean island, according to a study released this Wednesday.

The report “Compound hazards, evacuations and shelters: Improving public health in the region of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands”, prepared by the Puerto Rico Hurricane Hub, showed that in the face of the possibility of a “severe” hurricane it would reach the island on 59.4 % of Puerto Ricans would not leave their residence to go to a shelter.

The reason? The fear of contracting COVID-19, as revealed by this survey released within the framework of Hurricane Preparedness Week, coordinated by the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust, attached to the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust.

The hurricane season in the Atlantic basin officially begins on June 1 and ends on November 30.

20% WOULD GO TO A SHELTER

According to this study, only 20.4% declared that they would seek refuge and 20.2% confessed that they would not know what to do.

The survey also reflected that after the pandemic some figures on this matter have been reduced.

“Given the results of this survey, we are concerned that people do not make the decision to evacuate their homes and go to a safe place in case of an emergency,” said Leslie Maas, director of the Puerto Rico Hurricane Hub, in a press release. .

Maas indicated that “it is important to reinforce that shelters are a safe alternative even with covid-19, and that in the face of an imminent threat, no one should put their life at risk.”

Until this Wednesday, the Puerto Rico Department of Health reported 46 positive cases, raising the official number to 119,674, while 11 deaths were also added, adding to 2,048 deaths.

The study presented this Wednesday was carried out between the Hurricane Hub Technical Assistane Center together with the University of South Florida, multiple entities in the United States and the National Weather Service in San Juan.

THE STUDY CONTAINS TWO SURVEYS

The participating entities conducted two surveys that include questions related to eviction and the use of shelters in times of pandemic, among other questions related to disasters.

457 people participated in the first survey, it was prepared in 2020 and before the first vaccines against covid-19 emerged.

The results revealed that more than half of the sample (55.7%) are more anxious and consider themselves vulnerable to the virus.

The findings of this first survey also show how the pandemic has impacted people’s decision-making when considering evicting or going to a public shelter, in case they need to leave their homes during an emergency, both in Puerto Rico and in the US Virgin Islands.

This study highlights the change in perception in those surveyed due to citizens’ fear of being infected.

The research methodology included a sample of more than 120 zip codes distributed by 71 of the 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico and three territories of the Virgin Islands of the United States, Santa Cruz, San Juan and Santo Tomás.

THE SECOND SURVEY IS IN PROGRESS

Meanwhile, the second survey is in the process of being completed, and its purpose is to compare the perception of the citizens of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands regarding this issue regarding the availability of vaccines against covid-19.

To this end, those responsible for the survey urged citizens to participate in it, since the results will be vital to prepare for the 2021 hurricane season.

The results will help investigators anticipate planning and logistics requirements, obtaining and allocating resources, the need for mutual aid agreements, and reveal enhancements to public messages in the event of disasters, among other things.

“It will be interesting to see if people’s trust in vaccines has changed the perception of citizens regarding eviction and the use of shelters in case of emergency. We cannot forget that Puerto Rico has gone through many events in the past years and above all we must protect life, “concluded Maas. EFE News



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