WV and National Disaster News - January 13, 2021


National News
The New York Times reports the Trump administration is changing its policy on holding back coronavirus vaccine doses for the second booster shot. HHS’ Alex Azar made the announcement Tuesday saying states should immediately begin vaccinating every American 65 and older and those with high risk medical conditions. Azar said, “This next phase reflects the urgency of the situation we face. Every vaccine dose that is sitting in a warehouse rather than going into an arm could mean one more life lost or one more hospital bed occupied.” Azar went to say the Trump administration always expected to shift from holding back doses when it was confident in the supply chain. Azar also said states that do not use up the doses quickly will lose their allocations and that in two weeks allocations will be based on the size of a state’s population of people 65 and older, not on its general adult population.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that a Major Disaster Declaration due to damage from Hurricane Zeta has been approved by President Trump. KATC-TV (LA) reports the declaration will provide direct assistance to those people and communities impacted by the storm, which made landfall in late October. WDSU-TV (LA) reports Edwards said, "We appreciate President Trump's approval for this assistance. Hurricane Zeta was the third storm within two months to wreak havoc on communities in Louisiana. Many areas were already in the process of rebuilding from damage by two earlier storms. Zeta brought considerable damage to the impacted areas. This will allow the state and our federal partners to continue assisting families with recovery from these events."
The National Interest (DC) reports in 2020 the U.S. had 22 climate and weather disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each, six more than any previous year. The article says families, communities and taxpayers are paying the price, yet many of these losses could be avoided with smart policies. An estimated 41 million Americans currently live in homes at risk of flooding and millions more are at risk from wildfires. The article says improving building codes and reforming land use and zoning laws could help avoid putting families at risk. The article goes on to say disaster spending is notoriously difficult to track because, although FEMA is the nation’s central disaster authority, almost every federal agency administers some level of disaster funding and disaster funds are often mixed with other programs. This makes it difficult to hold agencies accountable. The article outlines several key areas for improvement from agency coordination to new a “disaster deductible” for states. 

Contact Information