BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida could be creating a storm of its own along the Gulf Coast.

“Certainly more people coming in that always has a risk associated with it. Again, just having more people and more population,” said Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health. 

Louisiana residents who have evacuated the state ahead of Hurricane Ida are now staying in neighboring states. Louisiana has been a hotspot for the virus in recent weeks. It’s something health officials in Alabama are watching closely.

“We’re all in about the same position. We’re all having high community transmission of COVID within our own states,” added Dr. Landers.

Places like New Orleans saw a spike in COVID-19 cases ahead of the storm. An indoor mask mandate is still enforced there, according to the city’s website.

“I just looked at our percent positive statewide yesterday and we’re over 22%. That is very, very significant. That takes us back to where we were,” said Dr. Landers.

She’s urging Alabama residents and visitors from Louisiana to complete the vaccination process if they haven’t done so already. The evacuations mixed with a busy week along the Alabama coast for Labor Day could create problems, she says.

“If some people have to come and they have to stay for a long time and they haven’t completed their vaccine then go ahead and get your other vaccine here in Alabama. We can work that out,” she said.

Dr. Landers reminds residents and visitors to have their ID available when they make their vaccination appointment. She says now is the time to help our neighbors, but we all need to play it safe.

“Let’s join together as Alabamians to protect our state. I think that we’re in such a difficult time that we need one another and we need everyone to work together,” she continued.