President Donald Trump on Saturday said his administration is “closely monitoring” a pair of major storms in Texas and Hawaii as the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season made landfall along the pandemic-stricken Texas coast.
“We continue to coordinate closely with both states,” the president tweeted from his Bedminster, N.J., resort, urging residents to listen to emergency management officials to protect families and property.
Hurricane Hanna, a Category 1 storm, brought 90 mph winds and the potential for dangerous flooding as it made landfall south of Corpus Christi, Texas, late Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the president approved an emergency declaration in Hawaii as Hurricane Douglas approached the islands.
The arrival of hurricane season has the potential to further stretch already-strained emergency responders in Texas and Florida, two of the country’s biggest coronavirus hotspots. Corpus Christi and the surrounding beach communities of Nueces County have been particularly hard hit, with cases spiking over the summer season.
Texas on Wednesday reported nearly 200 coronavirus deaths — a single-day record. Florida’s coronavirus case count was set to pass New York’s on Saturday, putting it second only to California in total cases since the start of the pandemic.
Roughly 4.1 million people nationwide have had Covid-19 infections, and more than 145,000 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor this week told Good Morning America his agency is ready to simultaneously handle the hurricane season and the ongoing pandemic.
“The agency has been up and running dealing with Covid-19, but we’ve also been preparing for the hurricane season,” Gaynor said. “We knew it was coming.”
Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb urged residents to stay home but wear masks if they’re forced to evacuate, according to the Associated Press.
Trump has raised eyebrows in recent years for his dubious statements about hurricanes, reportedly claiming they could be stopped with nuclear weapons. Last summer, after tweeting that Alabama could be among the states threatened by a hurricane despite the storm making landfall far to the east, the president displayed a map apparently doctored with a Sharpie showing the state in the hurricane’s path.
In addition to monitoring the hurricanes on Saturday, Trump tweeted condolences to game show host Regis Philbin, who died Friday, and played golf with former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre at his Bedminster club.