This Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant provides funding to assess participantsâ€™ crisis exposure, their threat perceptions, their self- and response-efficacy, their emotional responses and their engagement in health protective behaviors as relevant to COVID-19 and to hurricanes. As the 2020 hurricane season commences, millions of Americans residing in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts will face the likely possibility of dual crises â€“ COVID-19 and hurricane exposure â€“ with competing mitigation strategies. Experts project that there will be four hurricanes that will develop into major hurricanes (Categories 3, 4, or 5) in the Atlantic during the 2020 hurricane season (June 1st â€“ November 30th). Concurrently, many in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states are seeing alarming increases in confirmed case of COVID-19. The confluence of crises in communities at risk for hurricane exposure may create an untenable and tragic situation where millions of people may be suddenly asked to flee from an approaching major hurricane to shelters, potentially imperiling themselves and others to COVID-19. Hurricane-force winds further compound the risk given the high potential for Coronavirus to spread via respiratory droplets, potentially creating super-spreading environments and fueling fears about going to shelters. Repeated exposure to such crises can tax individualsâ€™ emotional states, leading to difficulties in functioning and decision making over time. The important theoretical and practical question is: â€œHow do people make proactive decisions regarding the threat of a hurricane in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic?â€
The research team conducts a prospective, longitudinal, epidemiological study of residents (n=1,683) from Texas and Florida, for whom the team has data on their exposure, behavior, and response to previous hurricanes. Participants are members of Ipsosâ€™s KnowledgePanel, and complete two surveys: one at the beginning of the 2020 hurricane season and at the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the second after the threat of a major land-falling Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane. The researchers assess participantsâ€™ crisis exposure, their threat perceptions, their self- and response-efficacy, their emotional responses and their engagement in health protective behaviors as relevant to COVID-19 and to hurricanes. Moreover, the team uses publicly available datasets to create geocoded variables that link participant location to objective indicators of disaster exposure to both COVID-19 (e.g., deaths per 10,000, daily cases) and the physical parameters of hurricanes (e.g., inundation flooding, wind speed, air temperature). This project examines individualâ€™s response to repeated exposure to hurricanes in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, using pre-COVID, prospectively collected data, objective markers of exposure, and a longitudinal design. The findings are useful to policymakers, service providers, educators, and members of the media to communicate messages and design interventions.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.