COVID-19 Puts Our Resilience to the Test

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Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina: Some populations at higher risk during COVID-19 pandemic

Michael Zakour, professor of social work at West Virginia University, lived through Hurricane Katrina and studied the vulnerability and resiliency of the community following the disaster.

After observing the lack of coordination and communication – which put vulnerable populations at higher risk – before, during and after Hurricane Katrina, Zakour is concerned the same may be happening now in the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Zakour has written numerous articles and books on disasters and community disaster vulnerability. He was lead editor of “Creating Katrina, Rebuilding Resilience: Lessons from New Orleans on Vulnerability and Resiliency.”


“As in many other disasters, certain populations will bear the brunt of exposure to the virus, infection and mortality. These vulnerable populations must not be ignored or passed over when aid is provided to deal with the novel coronavirus.”

“The novel coronavirus is a disaster initiated by both natural forces and human-caused hazards. Of course, the natural hazard is the novel coronavirus. The human-caused hazard is the slowness of the response, and the lack of adequate coordination among government and private organizations at all levels.”….


COVID-19 Puts Our Resilience to the Test

We are all in uncharted territory with COVID-19 (Cornoavirus). I’m a Gen-Xer, and I’ve never lived through something like this. We have had a few scares over the years with the avian flu, swine flu, Ebola, etc. However, those fears dissipated rather quickly. When AIDS first hit in the 1980s, that caused quite a scare. Still, AIDS was very different than this COVID-19 pandemic.

To be clear, we should be very concerned about COVID-19 and take the necessary precautions. This includes practicing social distancing and washing hands frequently. These and other recommendations can be found here

While we need to take steps to address this crisis, we should try not to panic. Given what we are going through collectively, it’s pretty easy to slip into panic mode! Is this the beginning of the Apocalypse? Suddenly all of these disaster books and movies come rushing through our brains: The Omega Man, The Andromeda Strain, Outbreak, 12 Monkeys, Contagion, The Stand, World War Z…the list goes on. What better time to panic than in a pandemic, right?

However, we know that panic will cause more harm than good. We need to keep cool heads so we can make skillful decisions on how to best navigate this crisis. It’s easier said than done but try we must…


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