Local hospitals taking COVID-19 into account while preparing for Hurricane Isaias

Facing a hurricane during a pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With Hurricane Isaias taking form, Jacksonville city councilmember Rory Diamond tells us area hospitals are having to take COVID-19 into account while planning for the storm.

“It doesn’t look like this is going to be a massive storm that’s going to cause evacuations,” said Diamond. “But, if we did have to do evacuations, doing it with COVID patients is incredibly complicated.”

Diamond represents the beaches communities in Duval County.

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“We’ve got a large number of seniors who live out at the beaches, or beach adjacent,” said Diamond. “If we had to evacuate any of them, it would certainly be challenging, because they’re trying to isolate at home.”

Jacksonville Beach is home to ‘Baptist Medical Center Beaches.’

Action News Jax reached out to Baptist Health asking how planning for evacuations in the beaches community this hurricane season is different amid the pandemic.

“Baptist Health Leadership is monitoring Hurricane Isaias. At this point it does not appear we will be evacuating. If we did have to evacuate, we would follow the same protocols for COVID-19 patients as we would for any patients with infectious diseases,” said Baptist Health in a statement. “We remain prepared and vigilant, and we have teams on standby monitoring the hurricane should there be an unexpected change.”

The hospital says it will be ready to respond if evacuations are necessary. Diamond says the city will do the same.

Action News Jax also reached out to the Mayo Clinic and Flagler Hospital. A Mayo Clinic spokesperson tells us they are gathering information and will get back to us.

Flagler’s statement can be found below.

“Flagler Health+ has a proven and robust hurricane plan. The only change in our planning process this year is the evaluation and adjustment of our drive-thru test site. our current plan is to close operations on Monday and resume Tuesday,” said Flagler spokesperson Gina Mangus. “As a sole community hospital, we do not typically evacuate during hurricane situations. COVID-19 patients in need of hospitalization will remain in our care throughout the duration of the storm.”