Residents fill and collect sand bags before the expected arrival of Hurricane Isaias in Doral, Florida, US [Liza Feria/Reuters]

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for counties on the Atlantic coast with Hurricane Isaias expected to hit the state as early as Friday night, a development that prompted the widespread closure of COVID-19 testing sites.

The hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 120km/h (75 miles per hour), is currently lashing the southeastern part of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on its Twitter feed.

The NHC said heavy rains may begin to affect South and east-Central Florida beginning late Friday night, and the eastern Carolinas by early next week, potentially causing flooding

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