Preparing for Hurricane Isaias as COVID-19 infections and deaths continue, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency on Friday for 19 counties along the Atlantic coast as the lower-level storm intensifies to a Category 2.
DeSantis’ order encompasses: Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, and Volusia.
As Isaias approaches South Florida and the Atlantic coast, DeSantis says that the best thing Floridians can do is have hurricane supplies ready and “pay close attention to local warnings and local news.”
“Regardless of how this storm plays out over the next 24-48 hours, we are looking at an active storm season,” the governor said at the briefing. “So, being prepared now is the right thing to do, but it will also help you as we see other storms — which will likely form over the next months of hurricane season.”
The upcoming storm comingled with the COVID-19 crisis has been on the mind of the governor and emergency operations officials for some time.
Later, DeSantis met with President Trump in a round table discussion in Belleair to discuss the storm and the disease outbreak; U.S. Sen. Rick Scott was also on hand. The president promised federal assistance in storm preparation and relief and praised DeSantis: “Good job, by the way, Ron. You’ve done a great job.”
As of Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported 470,386 COVID-19 infections and 6,843 deaths. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis — have the largest numbers of infections and are among the counties named in DeSantis’ executive order on Friday.
DeSantis announced the order at a briefing on Hurricane Isaias on Friday, close to noon. At the time of the briefing, DeSantis reported that the hurricane has the “potential” to increase to Category 2.
However, when the executive order was released later in the day, it stated that the “National Hurricane Center predicts Hurricane Isaias will intensify into a Category 2 Hurricane as it approaches the Florida Peninsula and the Atlantic Coast.”
DeSantis said the “situation remains fluid” and that he might return Friday evening for an update on Isaias, depending on “what the storm does.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shortened to NOAA, reported a “busy” hurricane season for 2020 in early June. Florida’s Division of Emergency Management has been actively planning for the hurricane season since March, DeSantis said at the briefing.
“I want Floridians to know the state of Florida is fully prepared for this and any future storms during this hurricane season,” the governor said.
Update: Adding President Trump’s comments from Belleair round table discussion. Deputy Editor Michael Moline contributed to this report.