Palm Beach County saw a slight decrease in the rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths over the past week, but it is not a sign that residents should ease up on social distancing, mask wearing and other precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County Director Dr. Alina Alonso told the Palm Beach County Commission on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The State of Florida has reported 536,962 cases of COVID-19 with 8,277 deaths.
“While there have been a few spikes up and down in general, the numbers are going down,” Alonso said. “For Palm Beach County, we have 37,297 cases, which is an increase of 277 positive cases. We have total hospitalizations of 2,814. That represents seven new cases, and that’s 8 percent of our cases, which is about the same as the state average.”
The number of local deaths stood at 936, which is five more in the past week and 3 percent of total cases, she said.
“If you remember early on in the pandemic, in March and April, the percentage of deaths was way up, and we kept wondering why that was happening,” Alonso said. “It has been consistent now. We’re just 1 percent above the state average, and we still continue to have the same elderly population, but those are not the new cases now.”
The age distribution of the current cases remains highest in the 25-to-34 age bracket, with 7,000. The 35-to-44 bracket has about 6,000, and 15-to-24 has about 4,000.
“That is a big bulk of all of our new cases, in that age group,” Alonso said. “There are very few on either end of the spectrum that are representing new cases.”
Florida has tested more than 4 million people, representing 18.4 percent of the total population, and the positivity rate has increased to 13.36 percent of those tested, which is still above the current state goal of 10 percent.
“Palm Beach County is the lowest in southeast Florida, and that includes our neighbors to the west in our agricultural communities,” Alonso said. “The highest numbers were Hendry County at 21.3 [percent] and Collier County at 16 [percent]. Miami-Dade has 19 percent. We know that they are really struggling, and so is Fort Lauderdale.”
She advised people not to get too excited about the possibility of going into a Phase 2 re-opening, which would include re-opening bars and some other facilities that have been ordered to remain closed under Phase 1 with the higher numbers around Palm Beach County.
“We would be back in the hole as fast as we open up, so I just want people to start thinking about that as we go forward,” Alonso said.
The COVID-19 testing positivity at 13.2 percent for the county shows that the rate has gone up, but more slowly.
“I attribute that to a large percent to the education we’ve done, but mostly to the COVID Education & Enforcement Team that is going around and going to places and looking at the people who are not doing their businesses the way they should be doing them, wearing a mask, making sure the distance is complied, because the moment we let the foot off that pedal, people will naturally continue to party,” Alonso said.
To learn more about the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.pbcgov.com/coronavirus.