GR US

Florida COVID-19 Testing Sites Close due to Hurricane

Αssociated Press

The Covid-19 test center at Hard Rock Stadium is closed due Hurricane Isaias, Friday, July 31, 2020, in Miami. (Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP)

MIAMI — Hurricane Isaias’ imminent arrival is forcing the closure of some outdoor coronavirus testing sites Friday even as the state reached a new daily high in deaths.

Meanwhile, the virus was complicating efforts to put contingency plans in place for evacuations and shelters if the storm makes them necessary. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Friday an order declaring a state of emergency in eastern coastal counties from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville, but no evacuations had been ordered or shelters opened.

The coming weather forced officials to halt testing in Miami, which has been worst hit by the coronavirus, for at least three days because many of the sites operate outdoors, in tents. Under normal circumstances, the sites have the capacity to test hundreds of people per day.

“We had to put safety first,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said at an online news conference Friday. “We will have thousands of tests that will not be conducted until we get these test sites up and running again.”

Social-distancing measures necessary to stop the virus’s spread were complicating evacuation plans. The shelters must now provide 40 square feet (3.7 square meters) of space for each person, and can’t offer cafeteria-style dining.