Preparing for severe weather and the coronavirus: Will you sit in a storm shelter?

Morgan County officials say it may be best to protect yourself from a tornado and putting on hold coronavirus fears.

Posted: Mar 23, 2020 8:16 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2020 12:06 AM

The potential for severe weather in our area within the next 24 hours has many asking which warnings they should pay attention to: huddling in public storm shelters for safety or socially isolating to avoid coronavirus.

Morgan County officials are clear in their advice.

"At this time, your first priority should be to protect yourself from a potential tornado. If a warning is issued for our area, you are most likely to be affected by the tornado than the virus," said Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling, citing Alabama Department of Public Health.

Officials in Morgan County say staying safe from both coronavirus and storms is important, but if there's a tornado threat in your area, you may need to risk being in close quarters in a storm shelter to protect yourself.

"You put yourself at risk if you decide to go against the warning that everybody is saying that's 25 people or over," said Chairman for the Morgan County Commission, Ray Long.

Close quarters in a time where being 6 feet away from others will help protect you from an illness. Morgan County officials say it's your choice to risk going into a storm shelter, but it may be the safer option.

"It's better to set that covid 19 aside and get in a shelter because we know a tornado will damage you and we're still worried about the Covid 19, but our shelters will be open," said Long.

"In this situation where you have bad weather that's going to potentially force you to be closer than recommended standard when you have covid 19 restrictions," said Nat Richardson, President of Decatur-Morgan Hospital.

Richardson told us in his opinion the best call is...

"That is a severe weather situation and you're gonna have to for that period of time be in close quarters," he said.

Right now, the coronavirus is putting scrutiny on hospitals and their preparations to combat coronavirus cases.

But how do they prepare for both coronavirus cases and severe weather?

"Hospitals have always been prepared for severe weather and we will implement our standard protocols for severe weather. We have different codes that we call depending on what type of weather it is and that's been standard and we will implement that if necessary," said Richardson.

Storm shelters have been sanitized in Morgan County. Decatur and Austin high schools in Decatur will be open on Tuesday.

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