Disasters Collide: Wildfires Drive Californians To Shelters During Pandemic
The deadly fires have created unhealthy breathing conditions across several Western states and raise coronavirus concerns for evacuees. The dangerous situation also set off a war of words between President Donald Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The New York Times:
As Wildfires Rage, Californians Fear The Coronavirus At Shelters
A wildfire was raging outside, but inside the evacuation centers there were risks, too. Natalie Lyons and Craig Phillips had to make a decision Thursday morning as they sat in their ash-coated Toyota Tundra under the smoky orange sky in Santa Cruz. “There’s some people coughing, their masks are hanging down,” said Ms. Lyons, 54, who said she had lung problems. “I’d rather sleep in my car than end up in a hospital bed.” (Browning, 8/20)
The Washington Post:
Wildfire Smoke In West Brings Unhealthy Air And Haze To Millions
Hundreds of thousands of acres in California are burning, part of a spate of fires that have forced thousands of people to evacuate and taxed the state’s overextended firefighting resources. Satellite imagery reveals that thick plumes of smoke streaming off each blaze have combined into a thick, smoky veil that covered parts of at least 10 states Thursday. Air quality has plummeted in many areas, making it dangerous to breathe for some. (Cappucci, 8/20)
California Wildfires Kill At Least 4 People As Some Evacuees Weigh Coronavirus Risks
Even for a state prone to natural disasters, California's had a catastrophic week. At least four people have died as a result of wildfires fueled by a heat wave and a blitz of lightning strikes in the state's northern areas. The clusters of fires merged into orange infernos that are creeping up on residential areas, turning neighborhoods into ash and smoldering ruins. And as tens of thousands of people evacuate to shelters, they're weighing the risk of coronavirus infections after California became first state to surpass 600,000 cases last week. (Karimi and Almasy, 8/21)
Capital Public Radio:
The Air Is Full Of Dangerous Wildfire Smoke And Viral Particles. What’s The Best Protection For Your Health?
If you don’t need to be outside this week, don’t be. Smoke from wildfires across the state carries tiny particles that can damage the lungs, especially for those with existing respiratory conditions. Public health officials and air quality experts also say staying indoors is the best way to protect yourself from the haze, the heat and exposure to COVID-19. (Caiola, 8/20)
And a war of words erupts between President Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom —
Trump Blames California For Wildfires, Tells State 'You Gotta Clean Your Floors'
President Donald Trump on Thursday blamed California for its raging wildfires and threatened to withhold federal money, reprising his attacks from previous rounds of catastrophic blazes. “I see again the forest fires are starting," he said at a rally in swing-state Pennsylvania. "They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up." (White, 8/20)
Los Angeles Times:
At DNC, Newsom Criticizes Trump For California Fire Comments
In a video appearance Thursday at the Democratic National Convention, Gov. Gavin Newsom tore into President Trump for threatening to strip federal funding for wildfire prevention in California after nearly 500,000 acres burned in storm-related lightning strikes, criticizing him further for trying to dismantle the state’s landmark vehicle emission standards. ... “Just today, the president of the United States threatened the state of California, 40 million Americans who happen to live here in the state of California, to defund our efforts on wildfire suppression because he said we hadn’t raked enough leaves. I can’t make that up,” Newsom said in a three-minute video. (Willon, 8/20)