Florida to close state-run coronavirus testing sites ahead of storm

Katie Ramirez
July 30, 2020

Isaias became a tropical storm late Wednesday, and is the earliest ninth named storm on record in the Atlantic, according to hurricane experts.

The official forecast track from the NHC takes the center of the storm near southern Puerto Rico from Wednesday into Thursday morning, then directly across the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola - which the Dominican Republic and Haiti share - on Thursday. It was moving west northwest at 20 miles per hour (31 kph), and its centre was expected to move over Hispaniola later on Thursday and near the southeastern Bahamas by early Friday.

Isaias was located about 160km west southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and about 260km southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for Puerto Rico, the USA and British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas.

"Testing sites are closing out of an abundance of caution to keep individuals operating and attending the sites safe", the Florida Division of Emergency Management said in a statement.

All sites are anticipated to be reopened at the latest by 8 a.m., Wednesday, August 5. Once the storm passes Hispaniola, there will be a better understanding of how this storm will behave as it moves towards the United States. There have been more than 451,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 6,300 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in the state, a New York Times database shows.

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Last week, Hanna hit the southern coastal region of Texas as a Category 1 hurricane, taking aim at some of the same communities that have seen a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. After that, the storm could hug the coast of Georgia, South Carolina or North Carolina.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, has been a busy one.

The storm is forecasted to bring rain and wind impacts to Florida later in the week and the weekend.

The current Hurricane season is proving to be a hyperactive one, as forecasted in May by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Minor damage was reported elsewhere in Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs since Hurricane Maria hit as a powerful Category 4 storm in September 2017.

An analysis of observational data of satellite images since 1979 by researchers suggest that climate change is making hurricanes stronger and more destructive.

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