Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar yesterday declared public health emergencies in North and South Carolina as Hurricane Florence approaches, and waived or modified certain Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program requirements to give health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility to meet emergency health needs. Among other actions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has activated its emergency operations center, and HHS regional emergency coordinators are staffing operations centers in impacted states to stay abreast of potential public health and medical needs. HHS also has positioned about 230 medical personnel from the National Disaster Medical System in North Carolina and Maryland; activated the Public Health Commissioned Corps’ Rapid Deployment Force; and arranged to provide additional ambulances to evacuate hospitals and nursing homes if needed. According to the South Carolina Hospital Association, Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered a mandatory medical evacuation for some coastal hospitals in South Carolina. Florence is expected to hit the South Carolina coast or further north on Friday, producing flooding and life-threatening storm surge. For additional hurricane preparedness resources, visit