Weather Safety Is Higher Priority Than Social Distancing, Health Officials Say

Alabama Department of Public Health offers advice on what to do in the event of severe weather. Source: Alabama Department of Public Health.

With severe weather forecast for much of Alabama this weekend, what’s more important: Taking shelter in the event of a tornado warning, or social distancing to fight spread of the coronavirus?

The top priority should be protecting yourself and your family from a tornado, the state Department of Public Health said in a statement issued Saturday. The agency urged people to make plans in advance of severe weather.

The National Weather Service has issued statements warning of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes across central and north Alabama from Sunday afternoon until early Monday.

County emergency management agencies will have information about the opening of local shelters.

“ADPH recommends that citizens’ first priority should be to protect themselves from a potential tornado,” the state Health Department said. “If a warning is issued in your area, you are more likely to be affected by the tornado than the virus. Thus, people should heed warnings and take shelter.”

Anyone going into a shelter should “take as many precautions within the shelter as possible to enhance social distancing and promote respiratory hygiene,” the department said.

Gov. Kay Ivey tweeted similar advice:

“Our state stands ready to face whatever Mother Nature brings, even amidst a health pandemic. Remember that the use of shelters & other resources takes precedent, should the need arise. Stay weather aware, & stay safe this holiday weekend.”