Officials say to prioritize safety over social distancing in severe weather situations


JOPLIN, Mo. (KODE)— With severe weather season upon us, health officials warn about social distancing to combat covid-19.

What do you do in the event of a shelter-seeking emergency?

It’s that time of the year when severe events like flooding and the possibility of tornadoes are at a higher risk.

Keith Stammer, Emergency Management Director, said, “Our main message when it comes to a tornado is this, shelter in place. If you happen to be at a facility that has a storm shelter, by all means, go there, if you are out on the road find a building to get inside, if you are in a building stay there. With regards to flooding, first of all in our area it’s turn around don’t drown. Most all of our flooding instances happen with lower water bridges.”

However, we have added a new threat to the season with the spread of the coronavirus, and with health officials reminding us about social distancing, it’s best to remember to seek protection from immediate danger.

Dr. Kerry Sachetta, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, said, “Well we’re still going to help anybody and everybody that shows up at the shelter. We know a lot of residents in Joplin do not have basements or they do not have access to a family member or a neighbor close by that does, so we will have our safe rooms open.”

“Social distancing is a concern in terms of transmission of a virus, but we’re talking about life-saving events and those always take priority,” said Stammer

And once at the shelters, local officials will still help to combat the spread of the virus.

“While we’re in the safe rooms, we are going to do the best we can to keep social distancing in place and also have hand sanitizer and just remind people over and over that we have another crisis going on at the same time,” said Sachetta.

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