“On the planned track, the center of Isaias will move over the Straits of Florida tonight, and approach the southeast coast of Florida early Sunday morning,” said the National Hurricane Center. “Isaias would then have to travel near or along the… east coast of the Florida peninsula on Sunday and Sunday evening.” “There is expected to be a hurricane until Monday.
Storm approaches Florida as state recorded record number of COVID-19 deaths this week, reporting 257 new virus-related deaths on Fridayhe reported a record number of deaths in a single day.
The governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency, urging residents to have seven days of food, water and medicine ready, but also facial blankets and hand sanitizer, as the potential disaster merges with the COVID-19 crisis.
State-run testing sites in some areas are closed ahead of the storm until next week, hampering efforts to track the virus.
Some Miami-Dade County hurricane shelters are on hold, with the potential to provide separate quarters for those currently infected. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Saturday that “unassembled options” have been made available to people who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19.
He also said the Emergency Management Division is sending 25 shelter kits with PPE to counties on the way to the storm. Each kit will contain enough PPE for up to 400 people for four days.
“We still do not think there is a need to open shelters for this storm, but they are ready,” Miami mayor Carlos Giménez said on Friday.
A hurricane warning was in effect Saturday morning over the east coast of Florida from Boca Raton just north of Miami to the Volusia-Brevard County line. A hurricane watch was in effect for Hallendale Beach south of Boca Raton. Miami officials said they were closing beaches, parks and marinas.
Governor DeSantis urged the population to remain vigilant.
“This is something that is an evolving situation and we know we are going to have impacts. What form these impacts will take remains to be seen, ”he told a press conference.
He said the state has a supply of personal protective equipment, as well as generators for nursing homes at risk of losing electricity. State officials are in contact with hospitals, DeSantis said, but did not anticipate that any of them will have to move patients, including coronavirus patients.
Isaias has already hit parts of the Caribbean, including the Bahamas and some of the islands that were devastated by Hurricane Dorian last year. It has also hammered parts of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where the National Guard has rescued at least 35 people from floodwaters that took away a woman who is still missing.
In the Dominican Republic, authorities reported that a man died after being electrocuted by a fallen electric cable. More than 5,000 people were evacuated and by early Saturday floodwaters had cut off more than 130 communities.
As the storm moves north, the governors of North Carolina and Virginia have already declared a state of emergency – withof some coastal areas.
“A hurricane during a pandemic is a double problem,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “But the state has prepared carefully for this scenario, so we can do our best to protect people from the weather and the virus. ”
Holden Beach and Ocean Isle Beach, which are close to the South Carolina border, as well as Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, which are part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks region, were subject to mandatory evacuations on Saturday.
The problem is not only along the coast, but also in inland areas that could experience high winds and heavy rains.
–Contribution: Audrey McNamara, Li Cohen, The Associated Press