Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County Director Dr. Alina Alonso called attention on Tuesday, Dec. 8 to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States that corresponds to the local Palm Beach County increase. That was before the Palm Beach County Commission called a recess during public comment that afternoon due to some attendees refusing to wear masks.
Alonso said that the county should prepare for a further surge in anticipation of holiday activities and the coming tourist season.
“On Nov. 3, we reached the first very alarming 124,553 cases in one day, but that was very quickly surpassed by going even higher. On the fourth, we had 227,885 new cases in the U.S. in one day,” Alonso said. “This is very alarming because of the very exponential growth.”
Florida reported a total 1,055,785 cases with 7,711 new cases as of Dec. 7, a total of 56,607 hospitalizations and 19,282 deaths.
Florida’s positivity rate, which is considered controllable at 5 percent, is now over 10 percent.
“Our total positivity has been way above the 10 percent for quite some time now, and our daily positivity is bouncing up and down for the last three to four weeks,” Alonso said. “Florida’s daily positivity is at 7.62 percent and total positivity at 14.04 percent.”
Miami-Dade County is highest with a daily positivity of 8.5 percent and total positivity of 17.59 percent, she said. Broward County is at 7.68 daily positivity and 13.38 total positivity. Palm Beach County is at 7.15 daily positivity with a total positivity of 13.15 percent.
Alonso said that since Nov. 23, cases have fluctuated from 300 to 600 daily cases. “I’m expecting this average to keep going up,” she said.
The cases of highest positivity are in the age 14-to-44 groups with a median age of 42.
“My concern is that we have to get ready for what will be coming in the coming weeks,” Alonso said. “Miami and Broward are having a lot of trouble with their hospitals, and they are having concerns, so they are making plans for a possible surge, as well as getting the vaccine, and as we go forward, we are going to need to be ready.”
She has requested more contact tracers from the state in addition to contact tracers that have been funded by the county after money was cut from the state.
“The money has been allocated again from the CDC,” Alonso said.
She encouraged the public to continue wearing masks, washing hands, sanitizing, keeping things clean and getting flu shots, since flu symptoms are similar to COVID-19. People are also asked to avoid close contact and closed spaces.
During public comment on Tuesday afternoon, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner recessed the meeting while several people were removed from the chambers for refusing to wear masks. When the meeting reconvened, about a dozen people spoke against wearing masks, either in the chamber while wearing a mask or from a separate room where a microphone was available.
More information about COVID-19 in Palm Beach County is available at www.pbcgov.com/coronavirus.