Digital Media Center
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Gate 61
920 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0370
(800) 654-4262

© 2024 Alabama Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WHIL is off the air and WUAL is broadcasting on limited power. Engineers are aware and working on a solution.
Alabama Shakespeare Festival Enter for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

As Hurricane Evacuees In Texas Return Home, Experts Worry About Spread Of Coronavirus

After evacuating to cities like San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, coastal Texas residents are making their way back home in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. Now there are worries that both evacuations and storm damage could potentially increase COVID-19 numbers in the state.

As of Friday, Houston had seen three straight days of fewer than 100 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, for the first time in two months. Daily new cases are on a rough downward trend. While the city isn't yet in the clear — the Texas Medical Center tracks three metrics to determine if the virus is under control, and not one of those benchmarks has been met — health officials say the spread of the virus in the region is slowing down.

But ahead of the storm, counties in the Greater Houston area closed COVID-19 testing sites. And those interruptions could last longer depending on any storm damage, which would then slow down efforts to control the virus, according to Dr. Stacey Rose, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine.

Despite precautions by officials to enforce social distancing among evacuees — housing people in hotel rooms instead of large arenas, and filling buses at half capacity — moving large groups of people during evacuation could lead to a spread.

"We have seen a spike in coronavirus cases after large gatherings," Rose said. "I think, unfortunately, sometimes that's part of those evacuation plans: people have to be in close contact."

Copyright 2020 Houston Public Media News 88.7

Sara Willa Ernst
Davis Land
News from Alabama Public Radio is a public service in association with the University of Alabama. We depend on your help to keep our programming on the air and online. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.