MIAMI • Hurricane Isaias strengthened slightly as it tore past the Bahamas yesterday, bearing down on Florida, and was expected to approach the south-east of the state before travelling up the eastern US seaboard.
The storm, a Category 1 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, prompted the authorities in parts of Florida to close Covid-19 test sites and people to stock up on essentials.
Hurricane Isaias is expected to deliver heavy rain to the state's Atlantic coast before hitting the eastern Carolinas by early this week, said the National Hurricane Centre.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis established a state of emergency for a dozen counties on the Atlantic coast, which makes it easier to mobilise resources. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper followed suit.
The storm had caused at least two deaths in the Dominican Republic and torn down trees, flooded streets and knocked out power for thousands of homes and businesses in Puerto Rico, according to media reports.
Public beaches, parks, marinas and golf courses closed in Miami-Dade County on Friday.
Miami-Dade and Broward counties also closed drive-through and walk-up testing sites for Covid-19, as the state at the epicentre of the country's outbreak reported a record increase in coronavirus deaths for a fourth day in a row.
Mr DeSantis said testing sites would remain open on Florida's west coast, and testing at hospitals and community centres may also continue.