Wednesday, May 27, 2020

NHC: 70% Chance Of Tropical Development Off South East Coastline




UPDATED: 0830 hrs EST

NHC Upgrades system to Tropical Storm Bertha
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Edisto Beach SC to South Santee River SC


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Although we are used to getting 36 to 48 hours warning prior to landfall, every once in awhile - particularly very early or very late in the Atlantic tropical season - we see a tropical storm pop up very near the coast providing us with very little advance warning.
Such is likely the case for a low pressure area, which has been lingering over Florida for the past couple of days producing heavy showers, that is now given a 70% chance of becoming the second named storm (Bertha)  of this busy pre-season before making landfall later today. 
At 7:35 am EST the National Hurricane Center issued the following special tropical update.



Special Tropical Weather Outlook NWS 
National Hurricane Center Miami FL 725 AM EDT Wed May 27 2020
For the North Atlantic...Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico: Special Tropical Weather Outlook issued to discuss the area of low pressure near the southeast U.S. coast. Radar imagery indicates that the area of disturbed weather located just offshore the South Carolina Coast has become significantly better organized over the past few hours. 
Reports from an offshore buoy are showing that this system is producing tropical-storm-force winds. If these development trends continue, then this system is likely to become a tropical storm before it moves inland later today. 
Heavy rainfall could cause flash flooding over portions of the Carolinas today. Gusty winds could also produce rough marine conditions and life-threatening surf and rip currents along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas through today.
1. For additional information, see products from your local National Weather Service office. The next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued by 3PM EDT Wednesday, or earlier if necessary.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...high...70 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...high...70 percent.
Forecaster Latto
While these immature tropical storms generally lack a lot of punch, they can occasionally surprise us.
In June of 1982 a `no-name' storm sprung up overnight off the southwest coast of Florida - catching everyone by surprise - doing millions of dollars worth of damage and claiming at least 3 lives. 
Last week, we saw NOAA's Busy 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, which calls for an unusually active 2020 hurricane season.


I spent last weekend charging up my rechargeable batteries, refreshing 30 gallons of fresh water supplies, and going over my hurricane plans and supplies.  If you live anywhere in `hurricane country' - and haven't already done so - now would be a good time to get prepared.
As we discussed a couple of weeks ago in Why Preparing For This Year's Hurricane Season Will Be `Different', our concurrent COVID-19 pandemic, and supply chain issues, will only further complicate preparation, and evacuation.
To help you prepare, below is a list of this month's hurricane preparedness blogs:
Hurricane Preparedness Week: Day 7 - Complete A Written Plan
Hurricane Preparedness Week: Day 6 - Help Your Neighbors
Hurricane Preparedness Week: Day 5 - Strengthen Your Home
Hurricane Preparedness Week: Day 4 - Get An Insurance Check-up
Hurricane Preparedness Week: Day 3 - Assemble Disaster Supplies
Hurricane Preparedness Week: Day 2 - Develop An Evacuation Plan
National Hurricane Preparedness Week: Day 1 - Determine Your Risk
Hurricane Preparedness Week 2020

Your primary source of forecast information should always be the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. These are the real experts, and the only ones you should rely on to track and forecast the storm.

If you are on Twitter, you should also follow @FEMA, @NHC_Atlantic, @NHC_Pacific and @ReadyGov and of course take direction from your local Emergency Management Office.

HHS ASPR-TRACIE: Promising Practices For COVID-19 Workforce











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As we emerge from our prolonged societal lockdown, the focus now is on how we can live and work as safely as possible while COVID-19 still circulates. We've seen a steady barrage of official guidance from agencies like the CDC, ECDC, and WHO, but much of this advice has been generic. 
The HHS's office for ASPR (Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response) is charged with preparing for Public Health and Medical Emergency Support during any crisis or disaster. Among the many documents on ASPR's TRACIE website (Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange), are a number that deal with COVID-19.
Most are `official' documents, but nestled among the federally generated advice you'll find a growing number of links to `promising practices' - including webinars  and other resources -  many of which have been created and submitted by local and state governments, hospitals, or other agencies or organizations.
Currently there are 20 promising practices for workforces solutions spread across 9 categories, and more are expected.  
Rather than re-inventing the wheel, a visit to this website could you how others have tackled thorny pandemic problems, possibly saving you, your organization, or your business a lot of time, money, and aggravation.

Topic Collection: COVID-19 Workforce Solutions from the Field

This collection highlights webinars and other resources sharing promising practices from the field related to workforce capacity and addressing workforce issues.
Please refer to CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 webpage for the most up-to-date clinical guidance on COVID19 outbreak management.
If you are a decision-maker and have COVID-19 promising practices, plans, tools, or templates to share with your peers, please visit the ASPR TRACIE Information Exchange COVID-19 Information Sharing Page (registration required) and place your resources under the relevant topic area. Resources specific to decision-making on healthcare workforce can be placed under the COVID-19 Workforce Virtual Toolkit Topic.

NOTE: inclusion of any reference in this document does not constitute an endorsement, acknowledgment, or suggestion that the reference is the only or best example for that topic. References are included as examples which were provided as suggestions at the time the document was developed.
All guidance posted is accessible to the public, and non-federal resources are noted with an asterisk (*). Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. government, or any of its employees, of the information and/or products presented on that site.
Promising Practices in 911
Promising Practices in Critical Care Nursing Staffing
Promising Practices in Developing and Implementing COVID-19 Surge Plans
Promising Practices in Long-Term Care
Promising Practices in PPE Match and Medical Supplies Match
Promising Practices in PPE Preservation
Promising Practices in Repurposing of Staff 
Promising Practices to Support Staff Availability: Childcare
Promising Practices to Support Staff Availability: Housing

South Korea Reports Another Uptick In Domestic COVID-19 Cases



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During the last 10 days of February South Korea saw their number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rise from just 31, to 3150; a 100-fold increase. In early March - with hundreds of new COVID-19 cases being reported each day -South Korea declared `war' on the virus.
They began testing aggressively and isolated any positive cases, potentially exposed individuals were quarantined, and they heavily promoted social distancing along with hand and respiratory hygiene.
By the end of March, their total number of cases had tripled (n=9583), but their daily increases had dropped precipitously, often down into the double digits.  April and May saw further reductions -  with many days only adding single digit increases in cases - and a shift from domestic to imported cases. 

On May 10th, however, in South Korea Reports Uptick In Domestic COVID-19 Cases, we saw the biggest uptick in cases in nearly a month (27 = Domestic, 34 =Total), most of which were linked to a 29-year-old man who tested positive after spending time at five clubs and bars in Itaewon.
As result, on May 9th the Mayor of Seoul issued an Administrative Order closing all bars and nightclubs in the city for at least the next 30 days.
Since then, the number of new daily cases has declined, averaging about 20 per day (domestic and imported). At least until the past 24 hours, during which time 40 new cases were reported (37 domestic). 


* Local government epidemiologic investigations are in progress, subject to change depending on epidemiological investigation results

○ 3 people were added for the group occurrence of the Original Bible Study Society, and a total of 12 people * have been confirmed so far. The additional contributors were two Rapachi Prayer Centers located in Nowon-gu, Seoul, and one elementary school teacher located in Bucheon-si, Gyeonggi-do.

* 1 Grace Methodist Church in Yangcheon-gu, Seoul, 1 Grace Church in Dobong-gu, Seoul, 2 Rapachi Prayer Centers in Nowon-gu, Seoul (new), 6 Hwadouri Church in Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do, 1 Jusarang Church in Uijeongbu-si, Gyeonggi-do, and 1 contact with confirmed persons (new) Etc

○ There were 27 additional confirmed cases compared to the previous day related to the collective occurrence of the Coupang Logistics Center in Bucheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, and 36 confirmed persons have been identified.
* 32 distribution center employees, 4 contacts (family living together) / Incheon 22, Gyeonggi 10, Seoul 4

Most of this latest spike appears to be linked to employees working at an e-commerce logistics center located in Bucheon, west of Seoul (see Reuters Coronavirus outbreak at South Korea e-commerce warehouse drives spike in new cases).
The index case at the e-commerce center, who was diagnosed over the weekend, appears to be linked to the nightclub cluster earlier in the month. 
Although most countries half their size would be happy to report just 40 new cases in a single day, this is a reminder that no matter how close you get to zero - even with continued vigilance - there are always going to be opportunities for the virus to flare again. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

COVID-19: Back To The Mink Farm



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Not quite a month ago, in Netherlands: COVID-19 In Farmed Mink, we looked at preliminary reports released by the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health - RIVM, on the detection of SARS-CoV-2 at two mink farms - located roughly 5 km apart - in the south-central part of the country.
While this was the first confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection reported in mink, it was hardly surprising. 
Nearly two months ago, in Susceptibility of Ferrets, Cats, Dogs & Other Domestic Animals to SARS-CoV-2, we looked at the experimental infection of a variety of farmed animals and household pets with the novel coronavirus. The authors wrote:
We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks, but efficiently in ferrets and cats. We found that the virus transmits in cats via respiratory droplets.
Mink are quite similar to ferrets - both being members of the Mustela genus - and have a long history of being susceptible to a variety of novel flu and respiratory viruses (see below). 
Nature: Semiaquatic Mammals As Intermediate Hosts For Avian Influenza
That Touch Of Mink Flu (H9N2 Edition)
Vet. MicroB.: Eurasian Avian-Like Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Virus from Mink in China
Over the past few days the Netherlands have reported additional mink farms affected by the pandemic virus, including a spillover into cats, and possibly even some mink-to-human transmission. The following (translated) report comes from Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR).
COVID-19 detected at four mink farms
Published on May 26, 2020
On April 26, two mink companies in Gemert-Bakel and Laarbeek detected infections of COVID-19 in different minks. On May 7, two other mink companies in De Mortel and Deurne were found to be contaminated. The minks showed various symptoms including respiratory problems and increased mortality. Some employees at both companies had symptoms of the coronavirus. Research shows that mink on the farm have transmitted the virus to each other. Furthermore, it is plausible that two contaminations have occurred from mink to human.

The Animal Health Service (GD), Utrecht University (UU) and Erasmus MC and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) are conducting research to gain more insight into the virus, the spread of the virus and the spread in the environment. Samples of sick and healthy animals have been collected and air and dust samples have also been taken in the vicinity of the farms as a precaution. GGD is involved in sampling and research into contamination of employees.
Virus transferred between minks
Previous research shows that ferrets, and therefore also minks, are susceptible to COVID-19 contamination. Pneumonia was seen in sections on animals and SARS-CoV-2 was detected in organs and throat swabs. Based on the variations in the genetic codes of the virus, it could be concluded that mink farms have transmitted the virus to each other.
Possible contamination from animal to human
Minister Schouten of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) reports in a letter to parliament dated 19 May that it is plausible that a coronavirus infection has occurred from mink to man. In a letter to parliament dated 25 May , the minister reports that there is very likely a second infection.
The minister has announced additional measures for mink farms. All companies are screened and visitors are banned from visiting the stables. A reporting obligation had already been introduced and employees were already required to wear protective clothing.
Virus in dust particles in the stables
Virus RNA has been detected in dust particles in the stables, indicating that people in the stables with infected mink can be exposed to coronavirus.
No virus in the air samples outside the house
In the letter to parliament of 8 May from Minister Schouten of LNV to the House of Representatives, it appears that the initial results of the investigation show that no virus was found in the air samples outside the house. RIVM indicates that the risk of exposure of people to the virus outside the house is negligible.
Area precaution is no longer required
In the second sampling series, the virus was no longer found inside or outside the house in the dust particles in the air. Minister Schouten announced this in the letter to parliament of 15 May . The previous RIVM advice not to walk or cycle in a 400-meter zone around an infected mink farm has therefore been withdrawn.
Three cats infected
The study also tested eleven cats at one of the infected business locations. Antibodies to COVID-19 have been demonstrated in three of these cats. That means the cats have been infected.
Ut is important to further investigate the role of cats in potential virus transmission of this respiratory infection. In this context, research into, among other things, (virus) transmission in cats is carried out by the Netherlands Center for One Health partnership . It unites: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research, Erasmus University Rotterdam and research centers in human health care.
WBVR tested the animals
Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) has performed confirmation tests on samples from the mink. In addition, further research is being started in collaboration with GD, UU and EMC.

In a (translated) Letter to parliament  (May 25th) on developments in COVID-19 on mink farms, Ministers De Jonge and Schouten summarize the most recent developments and research results concerning COVID-19 on mink farms.
(Excerpt)
In our letter of May 19, we reported that there are three farm cats on it an infected mink farm tested positive for serological testing. On this further investigation has taken place. In total, seven of the 24 sampled farm cats tested positive at a serological site research. That is, these positive cats have antibodies created against the virus.
One of the positive cats was under investigation virus detected, however the amount of virus detected is probably too little to unravel the genetic code. The other six cats could no virus can be detected. That means these last six cats have a CoV 2 have gone through infection and no longer shed virus. Because cats being infected with CoV-2 has been previously known to infected mink farms advised to ensure that their cats cannot enter the company premises leave. 
Farmed Mink being susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 poses far less of a concern than if the virus had an affinity for pigs or poultry - but it is important to monitor other potential hosts for the virus - as they could provide additional opportunities for the virus to adapt and evolve outside of our view.

As far as felines are concerned, over the past couple of months we've looked at a number of field reports, and some limited research, on the susceptibility of cats to the COVID-19 pandemic and their potential for transmitting the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others.
CDC: Pets & Other Animals and COVID-19
NEJM: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats
APHIS: Confirmation of COVID-19 in Two Pet Cats in New York
The evidence thus far suggests your cat is far more likely to contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus from you, or another human, than to spread it to humans   What is known as Reverse Zoonosis. 


We are, of course, still learning about this pandemic virus. For those looking for more information, the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) maintains a detailed webpage (updated May 15th) on what is currently known about animal infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


While the infection risk to, and from, animals is believed to be low at this time, the AVMA recommends the following precautions:

         (Excerpt)
SUMMARY AND CURRENT RECOMMENDATIONS
Despite the number of global cases of COVID-19 surpassing the 4 million mark as of May 9, 2020, we are aware of only a handful of pets and captive or farmed wild animals that have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. In all cases, the source of the infection for these animals was presumed to be one or more persons with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. At this point in time, there is also no evidence that domestic animals, including pets and livestock, can spread COVID-19 to people. 
Therefore, the AVMA maintains its current recommendations regarding SARS-CoV-2 and animals. These recommendations, which are supported by guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), are that:
  • Animal owners without symptoms of COVID-19 should continue to practice good hygiene during interactions with animals. This includes washing hands before and after such interactions and when handling animal food, waste, or supplies.
  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors, when possible, to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals. Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
  • Until more is known about the virus, those ill with COVID-19 should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. Have another member of your household or business take care of feeding and otherwise caring for any animals, including pets. If you have a service animal or you must care for your animals, including pets, then wear a cloth face covering; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them, and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.
  • At this point in time, there is no evidence to suggest that domestic animals, including pets and livestock, that may be incidentally infected by humans play a role in the spread of COVID-19.
  • Routine testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2 is NOT recommended. Veterinarians are strongly encouraged to rule out other, more common causes of illness in animals before considering testing for SARS-CoV-2.
  • Human outbreaks are driven by person-to-person transmission. Accordingly, we see no reason to remove pets from homes even if COVID-19 has been identified in members of the household, unless there is risk that the pet itself is not able to be cared for appropriately.
During this pandemic emergency, animals and people each need the support of the other and veterinarians are there to support the good health of both.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Taiwan CDC Alert: 2 New Cases Of Human H9N2 in Mainland China



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Although reports of human infection with avian flu subtypes have been on the decline the past 3 years - undoubtedly due to China's massive nationwide H7+H5 poultry vaccination program of 2017-  one subtype, not covered by the vaccine, has been on the ascendent; H9N2. 
Ubiquitous in poultry across Asia and in much of the Middle East, LPAI H9N2 occasionally jumps to humans, generally producing only mild to moderate illness. 
Due to a lack of testing, we are only aware of a few dozen cases (see FluTrackers List), but serological studies suggest human infection is far more common than those numbers would have us believe (see J. Infect & Public Health: High Seroprevalence Of Avian Influenza H9 Among Poultry Professionals In Pakistan)

Prior to 2015, there were fewer than a dozen known cases of human H9N2 infection, primarily in China and Bangladesh, but since then we've seen more than 40 cases reported in Asia and the Middle East. 
In the WHO's most recent Influenza at the human-animal interface - published earlier this month China reported two cases between Feb 28th and May 8th. Both involved children; one a 5-year-old girl from Hunan province, and the other 3-year-old girl from Guangdong province.
Today, Taiwan's CDC is reporting two more cases on the Mainland, both with onsets in the past 30 days.  First the (translated) statement, then I'll return with a bit more. 

China's Shandong province new type A influenza travel epidemic recommended to be upgraded to second level alert (Alert) 
Release Date: 2020-05-25
According to the Department of Disease Control, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on May 23, 2020 (China) on May 9th and 13th that China will report one case of H9N2 influenza, one of which is a 6-year-old boy in Weihai City, Shandong Province. , Onset on April 28; the other case was a 10-month-old baby boy in Xiamen, Fujian Province, on May 4. Two cases had mild symptoms. After receiving treatment, they have all recovered. 
Both cases had a history of poultry or live poultry market exposure before the onset. Based on the local risk of environmental exposure, the CDC announced that in addition to Fujian Province, which has been listed as the second-level warning (Alert) of the new type A influenza tourism outbreak recommendation, Shandong Province has also been upgraded to the second-level warning (Alert) from now on. ); In addition, China Mainland (including Hong Kong and Macao) severe special infectious pneumonia travel epidemic recommended level of maintenance to maintain the third level warning (Warning).
According to the CDC, there have been 7 cases of H9N2 influenza in mainland China (including Hong Kong) since October last year, with no deaths, distributed in Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Hong Kong (moved from Guangdong), Hunan and Shandong The provinces are all mild and have a history of poultry or live poultry market exposure; there have been a total of 46 cases worldwide so far in 2013, with 38 cases in mainland China (including Hong Kong).
At present, the CDC has listed the recommendations of the new type A influenza travel epidemic in Mainland China's Anhui Province, Beijing City, Fujian Province, Guangdong Province, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Hunan Province, Jiangsu Province, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Yunnan Province, and Shandong Province as the second-level warning (Alert), other provinces and cities are listed as the first level of attention (Watch).
The Department of Disease Control reminds people that when they go to mainland China, they should implement the "5 to 6 no" principle, 5 to: poultry meat and eggs should be cooked, wash hands with soap, the doctor should wear a mask to seek medical treatment, and long-term contact with birds People must be vaccinated against influenza, a balanced diet and appropriate exercise; 6 No: do not eat raw poultry eggs or products, do not smuggle and buy unrecognized poultry meat, do not touch or feed migratory birds and poultry, do not wild and Discard poultry at will, do not mix breeding poultry with other livestock, and do not go to places where there is no air circulation or crowding.
If you have a fever or flu-like symptoms when you return to China, you should take the initiative to inform airline personnel and quarantine personnel at the airport and port; if you have the above symptoms after returning to China, you should wear a mask to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, and inform the doctor of the history of travel contact. For related information, please refer to the website of the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov.tw/), or call the toll-free epidemic prevention line 1922 (or 0800-001922) for inquiries.

Just over a week ago, in CDC Adds 3 Novel Flu Viruses To IRAT Listwe looked at the addition of 3 new novel viruses to the CDC's pandemic watch list, including the emerging Y280 lineage of the H9N2 virus.

H9N2: Avian Influenza A(H9N2) Y280 lineage [A/Anhui-Lujiang/39/2018] Virus
Low pathogenic avian influenza A(H9N2) viruses are enzootic in poultry in many countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Since the late 1990s when the first human infections with avian influenza A(H9N2) virus were identified, detection of this virus has been reported infrequently in humans and in swine and other mammals. In 2018, there were 7 reported human infections, most with known exposure to poultry and with the majority involving viruses of the Y280 lineage.
Summary: A risk assessment of avian influenza A(H9N2) Y280 lineage A/Anhui-Lujiang/39/2018 virus was conducted in July 2019. The overall IRAT risk assessment score for this virus falls into the moderate risk category. The summary average risk score for the virus to achieve sustained human-to-human transmission was 6.2. The average risk score for the virus to significantly impact public health if it were to achieve sustained human-to-human transmission was 5.9, also in the moderate range. For a full report click here pdf icon[356 KB, 5 pages].

While H9N2 may not be at the very top of our pandemic threats list, it is still regarded as having moderate pandemic potential. And in recent years, we've seen evidence that H9N2 continues to adapt to mammalian hosts, increasing that potential. 

COVID-19: The Rat Abides?













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Sounding like something out of George R. Stewart's groundbreaking 1949 post-apocalyptic novel Earth Abides - where nature slowly reclaims previously human-occupied cities - newspaper headlines this weekend are warning of hordes of `aggressive rats' flourishing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


A few examples include:
Beware of 'aggressive' rats on the hunt for food ... - Miami Herald
CDC warns rats are becoming more aggressive and cannibalizing each other as they struggle to find food amid restaurant closures - UK Daily Mail

With restaurants closed, rat sightings are increasing across the United States
- CNN
Although we've seen reports for a couple of months of increased rat activity in large cities (see NatGeos April 3rd Rats come out of hiding as lockdowns eliminate urban trash), these latest new warnings stem from a rather staid bit of COVID-19 community guidance, posted on the CDC's website 4 days ago.
Rodent Control
Jurisdictions have closed or limited service at restaurants and other commercial establishments to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Rodents rely on the food and waste generated by these establishments. Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas.
Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food. Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior.
Eliminate Conditions That Attract Rodents

Follow established guidelines when cleaning up after rodent infestations to prevent exposure to rodent-borne diseases.
During rodent-related service calls and inspections, environmental health practitioners should advise residents and business owners to eliminate conditions that may attract and support rodent presence. Preventive actions include sealing up access into homes and businesses, removing debris and heavy vegetation, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins, and removing pet and bird food from their yards.
Monitor Rodent Populations
After natural disasters like hurricanes, communities often experience a decline in rodent populations, followed by an increase in rodent populations as commercial activity returns to normal. Environmental health programs should continue rodent monitoring and control activities after these events.
Rodent bait stations may become a more attractive food source for rodents, so stations may need to be serviced more often. It is important to monitor rodent activity during this time and develop indicators to help inform rodent control strategies. Integrated Pest Management: Conducting Urban Rodent Surveys and Rodent Control After a Disaster provide useful information on monitoring rodents.
Clean Up after Rodents
Follow established guidelines when cleaning up after rodent infestations to prevent exposure to rodent-borne diseases. Fleas are common on rodents. In areas of heavy rodent infestations, workers should consider using a repellant registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against fleas to prevent flea bites and minimize exposure to fleaborne disease.
Learn more about clean-up methods and personal protective equipment for protecting health and safety during clean-up operations.
Additional information on controlling rodents from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/rodenticides

While a far cry from the plague of Rattus rattus envisioned by George R. Stewart more than 70 years ago - aggressive or unusual rat behavior can become a problem following a disaster, or a major disruption in human behavior. 
The estimated rat population in New York City has been revised downward in recent years (see Does New York City really have as many rats as people?), but the number still runs into the millions.
Following the flooding of NYC's subway tunnels during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, there were grave concerns that millions of rats would run wild in the streets. While some increased rat activity was reported, it never lived up to the pre-storm hype (see Rat tales abound in NYC after Superstorm Sandy - CBS News).
Admittedly, rats can be a vector of diseases - either directly or indirectly -  making rodent control an important public health issue. 
Although many of those diseases (e.g. Lassa fever, South American Arenaviruses, etc.) are not found in the United States, some that are include Plague, Leptospirosis, Tularemia, and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (see CDC: The 8 Zoonotic Diseases Of Most Concern In The United States).

During our national lockdown, I've seen numerous reports of increased coyote and other wildlife sightings in urban areas (see LA Times Coyotes, falcons, deer and other wildlife are reclaiming L.A. territory as humans stay at home), and I recently had an surprise encounter with a red fox when I went out to check my mailbox just after sunrise.

While a ratpocalypse isn't upon us, it is worth considering that there may be some changes in wildlife behavior in your area, and that may require a little more awareness and caution on your part as we gradually reintegrate ourselves into the outside world.