South Floridians should “start to examine what other opportunities or options they may have to be out of South Florida,” Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a virtual press conference as a broad area of low pressure looked increasingly likely to turn into Tropical Storm Isaias.
Tropical storm-force gusts could arrive in Florida as early as Friday night, but Saturday is much more likely, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) Miami.
Tony said the biggest hurdle officials anticipate during the 2020 hurricane season is the ability to effectively maintain social distance while taking in large numbers of people at county storm shelters. Florida has recently experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“The more that we can do as individuals and focus on the things we can do to reduce the burden on government will be extremely helpful as the mayor, the county administrator are tackling different new challenges and trying to be innovative to the point where we’re not shutting down government completely, but at the same time, we’re not unnecessarily allowing for hazards and exposures to this virus,” Tony said.
In preparation for the storm, the Florida Department of Emergency Management has said it will close all state-run COVID-19 testing sites at the end of business day today.
The storm knocked out power to more than 300,000 clients across Puerto Rico, according to the island’s Electric Power Authority. Minor damage was reported elsewhere in the island, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.