Potential impact of earthquakes during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic
Vitor Silva, M.EERI, Nicole Paul
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic caused a human and economic impact of unprecedented magnitude in contemporary history. In an effort to reduce the rate of infection, most governments implemented measures to increase social distancing and to strengthen the capacity of the healthcare system. The occurrence of earthquakes coincident with the pandemic may prevent the effective practice of such measures, and consequently cause an increase in the virus spread. This study analyzes the potential impact that seismic events may have on the infection rate within regions afflicted by both epidemics and earthquakes and explores open software packages that can be employed to simulate the impact of future destructive earthquakes on the spread of an emerging virus. Recent data on the number of confirmed cases at the national or subnational level were combined with a global seismic hazard and risk map to produce a combined index. This index highlights regions where preparedness and contingency plans should be developed to account for the possibility of COVID-19 outbreaks due to the earthquake impact.