Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner met with reporters Friday, July 17 at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center to discuss the current spike in COVID-19 positivity rates in South Florida and steps that are being taken in Palm Beach County to lower the numbers and keep residents safe.
On Thursday, the county reported 923 new cases of COVID-19, the second highest daily number to date. About one-third fewer new cases (650) were reported Friday. A total of 24,361 confirmed cases have been reported in Palm Beach County with 659 fatalities. Health officials are closely watching the cumulative positivity rate, which stands at 12 percent. Three weeks ago, it was 9 percent.
“Nothing is off the table,” Kerner replied when asked if officials may have to revert to shutting down to stop the community spread. “We have some work to do. We are in what I would call a plateau in positivity. What we need to do is keep this manageable.”
There are no plans at this time to impose a curfew, as Broward County has ordered. However, Palm Beach County has issued an order that states no establishment permitted to serve food for on-site consumption, whether indoor or outdoor, shall serve food between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Delivery, drive-through, pick-up or take-out services are permitted for off-site consumption.
In an effort to help slow the community spread, “Combat COVID” masks will be mailed out to all Palm Beach County households next week. The “Combat COVID” app is also expected to launch next week. It notifies those who download the app when they come in close proximity to another app user who has tested positive.
“It is cutting-edge technology,” Kerner said. “It is the type of technology that needs to be developed in the heat of the moment like this.”
The COVID Education & Compliance Team, which conducts unannounced visits to businesses that may not be following mask and social distancing rules, has been very effective, he said. More than 3,300 complaints have been received on the COVID hotline.
“We are gaining compliance, and it’s starting to bear some real fruit for this community,” Kerner said. “It has changed the conduct and the way people feel about compliance.”
Watch video from the press conference above.