Latest COVID-19 Wave Concerns County Health Director

The resurgence of COVID-19 internationally, nationally and locally elicited a warning Tuesday, Oct. 27 from Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County Director Dr. Alina Alonso at a Palm Beach County Commission meeting. She urged people to remain diligent in wearing masks, washing hands and socially distancing.

Alonso referred to a Johns Hopkins University chart of U.S. cases by day showing a new peak on Oct. 24 of more than 83,718 cases, larger than the second peak on July 16 of more than 75,000, and the first peak on April 9 of almost 350,000.

“Nationally, we’re seeing states that are in quite a bit of trouble right now… especially in these smaller areas that are not used to having a large number of hospitals like we do in southeast Florida,” she said.

Florida has had 782,013 total cases, 48,281 hospitalizations and 16,652 deaths.

“That’s 3,337 new cases as of yesterday,” Alonso said. “That’s versus the 1,000 we had at the last meeting, so this has gone up significantly in Florida along with the rest of the country.”

She added that the daily positivity rate for Florida went up from 4.83 percent to 5.91 percent with 3,361 positives and 53,516 negatives with positive cases trending upward.

Palm Beach County remains in the number-three position with 50,816 cases, behind Miami-Dade County with 182,523 and Broward with 83,962. The next highest counties are Hillsborough with 47,080 cases, Orange with 45,080 and Duval with 34,462.

“All six of these counties are metro counties,” Alonso noted.

The Palm Beach County total positivity rate has gone down the past 14 days from 12.4 percent to 12.14.

“This is the good news slide,” Alonso said. “We see the total positivity rate has continued to go down. I expect this to continue to go down as long as we have people being tested.”

New cases per day have been trending upward over the past three weeks from an average of 110 per day from Oct. 5 to Oct. 11 to 250 per day from Oct. 19 to Oct. 25.

“We’re handling it quite well,” she said. “We have all our contact tracers in place, however the state stopped funding us as of November. They are working very hard trying to come up with more sources for help for our counties and for our contact tracing. That will be critical as we go forward into the months, especially December and January when we have a lot of people coming down from up north.”

Alonso said she is concerned that there have been some spikes in the daily lab positivity rates recently.

“I’m concerned seeing those peaks being larger than we have had in the past,” she said. “I’m also happy that we see some low ones, but increasing lab positivity is not good because that tells us that the virus is occurring more frequently in the community.”

Alonso said people need to continue to wear masks, wash their hands and get a flu shot, as flu symptoms are similar to COVID-19.

“There is a great deal of COVID fatigue, and people let their guard down and stop using their masks and going out, especially to bars, in both the state and the nation are experiencing these rapid increases,” she said.