This year has been marked by a great number of different types of global emergencies. Of course, the central part of these emergencies has been the COVID-19 pandemic. The first case was reported in December of 2019 in China, and by September, it has spread all over the world, including the United States, and with many countries now experiencing second waves, leaving behind countless deaths and people with severe health issues.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has been the protagonist of this year, But, a new threat is tormenting the USA: the biggest wildfire season to date. This problem has been affecting mostly the west coast of the United States, burning down a great percentage of these state’s land, destroying property, and injuring a lot of residents and firefighters. People are evacuating their homes in search of safety, but they leave behind their belongings without knowing if they’ll be able to get it back.
It’s safe to say this situation has been hitting hard a great part of the United States, and while people have been focused on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, now we’re dealing with a double problem. The smoke from the fire also affects the respiratory system, so more N95 masks are needed, increasing the ongoing shortages of this item.
While the fires are affecting mostly the west coast of the USA, some parts are experiencing more damage than others. Let’s take a look at where the fires are highest, and what are the most affected counties in these states.
The wildfires of 2020 in the USA
Since the beginning of the year, even though the attention was fully in the pandemic, experts were already predicting what would happen later in the year. January and February were drier than they usually are, which made experts think the wildfire season that would unleash in later months would be especially severe.
California, a key state that is always the most affected during this time, was declared in a state of emergency in May by the Governor, since there was a massive tree death. March and April brought rain that alleviated the drought, but nonetheless, the concerns from earlier in the year started to become true.
In July, the wildfires started in the state of Arizona and quickly became very severe, and that was an early sign of what was expected to happen in California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire declared the wildfire season of 2020 the largest in California history, proving the predictions to be true.
Certainly, with 3.7 million acres of land burned down by the 14th of September, which represents 3.7% of the state’s land, California is experiencing a big crisis, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the state’s largest wildfire season. The blame has been put on human-induced climate change, but still people are skeptical about whether this phenomenon exists or not.
But, with resources fully focused on the pandemic, another problem comes up: the shortages of N95 masks will increase. The debate and controversy of whether or not the USA was properly equipped to face the pandemic has become even more polarized towards the ‘no’.
N95 respirators and KN95 masks have other purposes besides virus protection, like protection against dust and other types of viruses, like the flu. These masks are widely used for protection against the smoke of the wildfires, and with this situation, the shortages that were already happening in healthcare centers, we can only expect them to become more accentuated.
People used to buy these masks in bulk or wholesale, especially 3M N95 masks like the 8210 or 3M 8511 models, but with the COVID-19 situation, people are turning to regular medical and surgical masks. These masks don’t have the same antiviral properties or protection against smoke, but authorities are instructing the general public to leave medical grade masks for healthcare workers.
Counties that have been hit the hardest
In terms of the most affected states, California is taking the lead. If we measure the level of affection with the quantity of acres burned, the counties that have been affected the most so far include Humboldt, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties, which add an average of 102,426 acres burned from the wildfire that started on July 26th, and has been contained in a 20% as of September 20th.
Los Angeles has been hit with several fires. A fire that started on September 6 and has contained only 15% as of September 21st has burned down 105,345 acres, and another one that started on August 12 and has contained 95% as of September 19, has burned down 31,089 acres, among other smaller fires.
The counties of Glenn, Mendocino, Lake, Tehama, and Trinity have been hit with the “August Complex” wildfire since August 16, and have accumulated 1.3 million acres of land burned. The counties of Tulare, Monterey, Fresno, and Madera have also been hit quite hard, with over 100,000 acres of land burned on each one.
Now more than ever we have to focus on protecting ourselves with equipment that can filter multiple types of particles, not only viruses. The smoke from the fires is very harmful, and we should be aware that now the coronavirus isn’t the only threat out there for our respiratory system.
You can find a lot of options for sale online, including those in a smaller size for kids. Face shields, N95 respirators, reusable cloth masks, and disposable face masks are some of the best ways to protect ourselves, and anyone who uses these products, will be protected against all threats.