Tropical Storm Isaias moves up coast of virus-hit Florida

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Image caption,
Isaias is travelling up the east coast

Tropical Storm Isaias is moving along Florida's east coast, bringing strong winds and rain to the US state.

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.

Governor Ron DeSantis urged residents to be vigilant, as state authorities opened shelters and closed beaches and parks.

Florida is one of the US states worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the latest daily count on Sunday, health officials said there had been 7,104 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to more than 487,000. This is second only to California, which has double the population.

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 moving slowly offshore along the eastern coast, with winds gusting up to 105km/hour (65mph).

Isaias is forecast to reach Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina in the coming days.

Thousands of power cuts have already been reported in Florida. Mr De Santis told residents to have a week's supply of food, water and medicine prepared.

People in affected areas were advised to stay indoors, or to evacuate if living in mobile homes.

Officials said on Sunday that Isais would not have a severe impact on Florida, with the threat of storm surges there waning.

But Lisa DeLaRionda, a spokeswoman for Palm Beach County, told Reuters news agency that Isaias had provided authorities with a "real-world scenario" of what extreme weather preparation could look like in the midst of a public health crisis.

Among the challenges, officials have been grappling with opening shelters that comply with social distancing regulations. Coronavirus testing centres have also been temporarily closed.

Media caption,
Darren Bett reports on storm Isaias

Isaias uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused flooding and landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. At least two people were killed.

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