May 19, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unusual kind of natural disaster, but like other natural disasters, we are anticipating a high number of casualties. Unlike earthquakes and floods, these casualties will accumulate more slowly and, as a result, will be less visible. Building codes, evacuation plans and other disaster preparedness efforts have limited loss of life in recent natural disasters in the United States, but infectious diseases are more complex. Epidemics are not simple events in one geographic area with immediate damage and subsequent relief efforts mounted from other areas. Global travel and supply chains have spread the effects in ways that reduce the ability of other neighboring regions to provide disaster relief. The novelty of COVID-19 prevents the government and others from responding with as much confidence.