Florida closes state-supported COVID-19 testing sites as potential tropical storm nears

All state-supported COVID-19 testing sites will temporarily close starting Thursday because of the approaching potential tropical storm.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon as Tropical Storm Isaias in the Caribbean inches closer to the Sunshine State. It is likely to strengthen into a hurricane and the most recent track includes part of Florida.

The sites closed at 5 p.m. on Thursday and will stay that way until 8 a.m., Wednesday, August 5th at the latest. This is out of an abundance of caution to keep individuals operating and attending the sites safe, state officials said.

The 60 sites, which are in 23 counties, offer walk-up testing and drive-through testing. They all have freestanding structures including tents and other equipment, which cannot withstand tropical storm force winds and could cause damage if not secured.

TRACK THE TROPICS: Visit the FOX 35 Orlando Hurricane Center for the latest in the tropics, including daily updates, live radar, and severe weather alerts.

Free coronavirus testing will remain available through county health departments. Privately-done testing at pharmacies or urgent cares is also advised if you need it. Officials say that test results will not be affected because those labs are in different states.

FOX 35 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Richards says that tropical storm conditions could begin in Florida as early as Saturday and will continue throughout the weekend. However, he explained that "the exact path and strength is too early to call due to all of the hurdles this system must overcome."

STAY PREPARED: Get all you need to know about the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season with the FOX 35 Orlando Hurricane Guide

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially began June 1, has since May 16 produced seven tropical storms and one hurricane. Hurricane Hanna on Saturday became the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas in July since 2008.

Download the FOX 35 Weather App to track the tropics on your phone, receive severe weather alerts, and get the latest daily forecasts.

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