It's a situation nobody wants to imagine: A major earthquake, flood, fire or other natural disaster striking the nation in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since March 1st the Red Cross has assisted more than 150 families impacted by a disaster in West Virginia. Of those more than 100 were home fires while 45 experienced flooding.
The Red Cross is assisting those in disasters using social distancing protocols.
"We have to make sure that we're using technology we're utilizing phone calls and work with first responders in a way that we don't have to physically go face to face but we're able to do all of those things virtually," Erica Mani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region said.
"We make sure that there are spaces marked so we're six feet between people. We also work to get away from large open congregational care type scenarios for shelters and use other facilities partners that allow us to put people into separate rooms so they're not in that big space together. So even sheltering in a large disaster is looking different in the face of COVID-19," Mani added.
If disaster strikes, blood donors are a must.
"It's always important to have blood on the shelves. It's always important to be stocked up prior to a disaster. This is the time for hurricanes to come up, severe storms, it's always important to be prepared prior to the disaster hitting," Amanda Cash, Account Manager with the American Red Cross said.
Due to the COVID-19 there have been blood shortages.
"We saw an extreme shortage and I think that was because so many people were afraid to go out. No one came out to donate blood everyone canceled their blood drives. When everything canceled because of the restrictions it created a severe shortage. Now we've been able to see communities come together and host blood drives. The government has also lifted regulations for blood drives which has helped," Cash explained.
The goal for the Red Cross is to provide a safe place while also protecting both the safety of their workforce and the people being served.
"Nobody will be coming into that shelter including workforce without having temperature checks, without having health screenings, getting their temperature taken. We'll be cleaning every touch point between every client. We will be there with the mask on and the gloves on making sure that we don't have anyone too close to one another asking those questions, 'are you feeling ill'? All of these things are a major focus for us right now and it's something that we have plans in place because we don't when and where the next large disaster will occur but we know despite the fact that we're facing COVID-19 disasters are stilling occurring so we have to be prepared," Mani said.