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FEMA chief preps for active hurricane season amidst pandemic

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Posted at 2:35 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 15:35:12-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spoke with E.W. Scripps on Friday, outlining his plan to fight COVID-19 and an above average hurricane season.

"Even though the season doesn't begin until June 1, it has begun in Florida this morning," said Peter T. Gaynor, FEMA Administrator.

"We want people to take time to prepare their families, their businesses, their communities for the normal hurricane season but you also have to overlay this impact of COVID-19," Gayner said.

Gaynor emphasized the need to rethink how certain evacuation sites are built, potentially taking into account the need to physically distance.

"Simple things, once thought to be simple, evacuations, mass care, how do you do shelter now, you need more space, you need more time," Gaynor added.

"Will we be prepared to handle hurricanes and COVID?" Washington Correspondent Joe St. George asked Gaynor.

"Absolutely, FEMA is prepared every day. We are about to issue a planning guidance for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season for COVID," Gaynor said.

FEMA responds to ongoing concerns

In regard to ongoing COVID-19 response concerns, Gaynor continued to deny FEMA has canceled any orders of PPE from going to state or local governments.

"We are not out there ceasing, diverting, redirecting. I don't have the authority to do it," Gaynor said. "These are middlemen out there trying to drive up prices for their own benefit and take advantage of customers."

"They use FEMA as a scapegoat," Gaynor added.

In regard to Operation Airbridge, which has sought to bring more PPE to the United States, Gaynor revealed supplies have been sent to hotspots like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Chicago, Detroit, Washington state and Louisiana.

Gaynor said governors have the ability during weekly briefings to know where that PPE has been sent.