California's annual earthquake drill goes virtual due to COVID-19

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LOS ANGELES, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- The annual statewide earthquake awareness drill in U.S. state of California was held online on Thursday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

International ShakeOut Day, aiming to educate the public about the importance of taking immediate action in case of an earthquake, is always the third Thursday of October.

The annual drill had more than 10 million participants in California last year and nationally more than 28 million people took part, however, this year, only about 6.4 million California residents registered on is a website managed by the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) at the University of Southern California.

The drill participants were encouraged this year to join a Facebook Live event, an online broadcast featuring a drill for everyone to participate in and to adapt their activities through video-conference.

"We have come a long way since ShakeOut began in 2008," Mark Benthien, Global ShakeOut Coordinator in California said in a statement, "More people have not only been practicing earthquake safety, but also securing furniture and objects around them, discussing safety plans, and even retrofitting their homes. For 2020, they are also adapting their drill plans because of COVID-19."

Janiele Maffei of the California Earthquake Authority was quoted by the local KPBS Radio as saying that because the participation isn't focused on schools or workplaces this year so the drill went virtual and it can happen anytime or anyplace.

"We may not be in our offices, we may not be in our schools, and so this actually works well for a family to practice, to make themselves ready," said Maffei. Enditem

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