Palm Beach County Updates Residents On COVID-19 Issues

During an afternoon news conference at the new drive-thru testing center at the South County Civic Center in Delray Beach on Tuesday, April 7, Palm Beach County officials provided an update on the first morning of testing at the second COVID-19 drive-thru testing center in Palm Beach County. This testing site is operating in partnership with Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the support of the Florida National Guard.

Persons wishing to be tested must be pre-approved and have an appointment before coming to the drive-thru center. Cleveland Clinic is conducting phone screenings to set appointments. The number is (561) 804-0250. The phone interview will cover the presence of symptoms, possible exposures and risk factors. Callers who are approved to be tested will be given an appointment date and time slot.

The South County testing center hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Palm Beach County had 1,136 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 63 deaths. Statewide, there were 13,629 confirmed cases and 254 deaths.

Kerri Hanna, director of clinical operations for Cleveland Clinic Florida, said Cleveland Clinic is grateful to have the ability to assist Palm Beach County with the South County Civic Center testing site. She stated that the COVID-19 screening hotline which opened Monday at 10 a.m. had by 4 p.m. taken 3,500 phone calls and scheduled 150 appointment for Tuesday, 95 percent scheduled for Wednesday and is at 25 percent capacity for appointments on Thursday. She added that people who call will be speak to medical personnel who will take the callers’ information, ask questions and get them triaged to schedule an appointment.

“We only have two weapons to fight this virus — social distancing and testing,” said Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County. “We knew we have to test more people, and to date we have tested more than 6,000 people since this began in our community.”

Palm Beach County’s rate for positivity in cases is 18 percent, and the state rate is 10 percent, but the reason that the county’s rate is currently higher is because they are only testing symptomatic people. Also, the death rate is higher because the over 65 population in the county is 23.9 percent. On a more positive note, the county is seeing a slowing down in the reporting of new cases. But Alonso emphasized that does not mean that residents should not continue to practice social distancing, because those measures are having a positive result.

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner closed the press conference and emphasized a message reiterated throughout the event that urged residents with holidays approaching and religious practices to continue social distancing and virtually connect with family and friends at this time.