Florida is preparing for Tropical Storm Isaias which is expected to hit the US state later on Sunday.
Isaias, the ninth named storm of 2020, was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm after battering the Turks & Caicos Islands and the Bahamas.
“Don’t be fooled by the downgrade,” Governor Ron DeSantis warned residents. State authorities have opened shelters and closed beaches and parks.
Florida is one of the US states worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
It has recorded more than 480,000 coronavirus cases, the second highest number of all US states after California, which has double the population.
Coronavirus testing centres are being temporarily shut and there are fears the hurricane could hit nursing homes already badly affected by the Covid-19 virus.
- How did Florida get so badly hit by Covid-19?
How has Florida been affected so far?
Early bands of heavy rain lashed the state’s Atlantic coast early on Sunday morning. The storm is now continuing along the coast with winds gusting up to 110km/hour (68mph).
A voluntary evacuation order is in place for people living in mobile or manufactured homes. Officials are grappling with opening shelters that comply with social distancing regulations and prevent the spread of the virus.
Mr De Santis told residents to anticipate power shortages and to have a week’s supply of food, water and medicine.
Isaias has already uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused flooding and landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. At least two people have died.
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