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Wildfires and Covid-19. Overlapping Emergencies Strain Resources, Demand Strategic Response

In California, six of the state's ten largest wildfires are currently burning, along with blazes in Oregon, Washington, and Arizona.

The El Dorado Fire in Southern California has burned 11,479 acres and is at 19% containment as of September 10, 2020. (Photo Courtesy of San Bernardino National Forest)
The El Dorado Fire in Southern California has burned 11,479 acres and is at 19% containment as of September 10, 2020. (Photo Courtesy of San Bernardino National Forest)

Over 100 wildfires are raging across the western United States, setting the stage for an unprecedented fire season as the Covid-19 pandemic persists.

In California, six of the state’s ten largest wildfires are currently burning. At the same time, uncontrolled blazes are ravaging parts of Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, torching millions of acres and killing at least 11 people.

Requested medical supplies arrived at the Chino Valley Community Health Center in San Bernardino County, California, on Sept. 11, 2020. The El Dorado Fire is impacting air quality in the region, and supplies delivered to the health center included respiratory medicines, opthalmic supplies and other essentials often requested during fires. (Chris Alleway/Direct Relief)
Requested medical supplies arrived at the Chino Valley Community Health Center in San Bernardino County, California, on Sept. 11, 2020. The El Dorado Fire is impacting air quality in the region, and supplies delivered to the health center included respiratory medicines, opthalmic supplies and other essentials often requested during fires. (Chris Alleway/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief has deployed several kits of emergency medical supplies, including N95 masks, hygiene items, and essential medicines, to health facilities in fire zones. The current wildfires have only compounded the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, flaring up respiratory illnesses and straining already limited resources.

On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Direct Relief’s head of emergency response, Andrew MacCalla, about how the organization is approaching the concurrent emergencies, ensuring an urgent and robust response to both.

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