As of Thursday, Aug. 13, the COVID-19 positivity rate had fallen to 6.5 percent in Palm Beach County, which shows a downward trend in weekly cases. This was a key takeaway from Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner’s press conference at the county’s Emergency Operations Center on Friday, Aug. 14.
“The total number of cases in Palm Beach County at this point is 38,575,” Kerner said. “That’s how many people who were tested and were positive since the beginning of testing in Palm Beach County. That’s not the number of people who are positive right now.”
A total of 291,132 people have been tested in the county. The increase in positive cases from Thursday, Aug. 13 to Friday, Aug. 14 was 367.
“Unfortunately, we have lost 976 Palm Beach County residents to COVID-19,” Kerner said. “We’ve had some very good trends in our daily lab positivity rate, which is the best metric to examine the prevalence of COVID-19 within our community. We’ve remained cautiously optimistic regarding our daily positivity rate. I can tell you, from my perspective, as I analyze the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community and impacts it is having on us, and how much work we have left to do, the daily metric is one that I have focused on because it is very accurate in determining just how widespread the virus is in our community at this moment.”
The cumulative rate is higher, at 13.3 percent.
The county’s mask order has been extended to Aug. 23 with further extensions likely. Phase 1 restrictions allow indoor seating in restaurants at 50 percent capacity with appropriate partitioning in place between parties. Outdoor seating and take-out service is permitted, but bar counters remain closed to seating, and eating at bars within restaurants is not allowed. Bars and nightclubs remain closed in Palm Beach County.
“We are greatly appreciative of the participation and cooperation from the community at large,” Kerner said. “We do believe it is really driving down the amount of spread in this community. It has been going down consistently over the last seven days.”
He announced that the Village of Wellington, in cooperation with Premier Family Health, is now offering free walk-up testing at the Wellington Community Center. “To date, there are 115 government and nonprofit testing locations in Palm Beach County,” Kerner said. “That is a wonderful and high-level access to testing in this county.”
Antigen testing is coming soon to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches testing site. The tests will be administered to individuals who are age 65 and older, under the age of 18, or symptomatic at any age. Antigen tests are specific for the virus, but are not as sensitive as molecular tests, meaning a positive antigen test is highly accurate, but a negative result does not necessarily rule out infection.
Molecular tests, also known as PCR tests, detect genetic material from the virus. This test is currently available at all Palm Beach County government testing locations.
The COVID-19 antibody test, also known as a serology test, is a blood test that can detect if a person has antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibody testing can help identify people who may have been infected with the virus or have recovered from the disease. This test is currently available at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and the South County Civic Center testing sites, and there are no age restrictions.
The COVID-19 Education & Compliance Team is moving into the enforcement phase, Kerner said. To date, a total of 5,085 complaints have been received by phone, e-mail, online or were initiated by code enforcement staff.
To learn more about the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.pbcgov.com/coronavirus.