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Tropical storm Isaias is expected to sweep through Florida this weekend as the state continues to grapple with a surge in coronavirus deaths.
The storm, which has caused life-threatening flash flooding and high winds in Puerto Rico, could be felt in parts of Florida as early as Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
While the expected intensity of the system is still uncertain, it is expected to result in rain and wind in Florida this weekend, with authorities acknowledging the storm is a cause for concern.
“Look, if we have a major hurricane here then we’re going to have to evacuate a number of people and then we’re going to have to … try to keep them separated as much as possible,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez told CNN. “That’s a concern.”
Maximum sustained winds for the storm have been measured at 60 mph extending outwards of up to 310 miles, according to the NHC.
As the storm is interacting with Hispaniola, the NHC has said it is difficult to predict the track and intensity of the forecast or the magnitude and location of potential impacts.
It is thought the storm will arrive on the east coast at the beginning of the weekend and spread northward to the Carolinas and southern mid-Atlantic states early next week.
In anticipation of the storm, Florida Division of Emergency Management has announced it will close all its drive-through and walk-up coronavirus testing sites.
WCTV reported that an email sent to site managers on Wednesday confirmed that all sites will be closed through to Tuesday in light of the possible impact.
“When you’re not testing is also a concern,” Mr Giménez said. “But the greater danger, the immediate danger has to be taken care of first, and that’s getting our people out of harm’s way.”
The bad weather forecast comes at one of the worst possible times for the state as it continues to see a large rise in fatalities from Covid-19 after a surge in infections thorough June and July.
The state reported 216 deaths from the disease on Wednesday, reaching another record for the highest daily recorded death toll in the state, which ranks seventh for the number of fatalities among US states, the Financial Times reported.
Confirmed infections of the disease appear to be slightly declining as the state wrestles with the outbreak with less than 10,000 confirmed cases recorded daily since the 26 July.
In total, Florida has recorded more than 451,000 cases of the respiratory disease and over 6300 deaths.
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