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New Tool Supports Informed Decision-Making on the Combined Effects of Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19

Wildfires in western Oregon during September 2020 resulted in hazardous air quality in many communities, including the Portland metro area.
Degraded air quality due to smoke from wildland fires may exacerbate the respiratory effects of COVID-19, potentially increasing infection rates and worsening infection outcomes. To mitigate the health impacts from the confluence of smoke and COVID-19, researchers from the Pacific Northwest Research Station and their colleagues created a national Smoke-COVID dashboard to help agency personnel make decisions in situations where both smoke and COVID-19 are factors.
 
Fiscal Year
2020
Research Unit(s)
Threat Characterization and Management
Principal Investigator(s)
State(s)
Washington

Smoke from wildfires may exacerbate the respiratory effects of COVID-19, potentially increasing infection rates and worsening infection outcomes. To mitigate the health impacts from the confluence of smoke and COVID-19, researchers are developing tools to track both the severity of smoke and COVID-19 that support public messaging and decisionmaking by U.S. USDA Forest Service (USFS) officials. Along with colleagues at the USFS Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Research Program and USFS Fire and Aviation Management, climate scientist Sim Larkin with the Pacific Northwest Research Station developed a national Smoke-COVID dashboard to aid agency personnel involved in smoke predictions and decisions that could be affected by both smoke and COVID-19. The tool tracks and integrates data on COVID-19 cases alongside air quality monitors, fire incidents, satellite fire and smoke detections, and smoke forecasts on a novel platform. This tool is part of a suite of decision support tools and systems related to COVID-19 that are being developed for the USFS National Leadership Team. It also supports broad efforts to deploy specialists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and joint messaging about wildfire smoke and COVID-19 at fire incidents.

Forest Service Partners
  • Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Research Program
  • Fire and Aviation Management
External Partners
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/news/highlights/new-tool-supports-informed-decision-making-combined-effects-wildfire-smoke-and