At the Tuesday, Feb. 2 meeting of the Palm Beach County Commission, the board received an update from Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County, Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson, and Health Care District of Palm Beach County CEO Darcy Davis on local COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
The number of new cases in Palm Beach County has been steadily going down over the past few weeks. There were 377 new cases reported Monday and one new fatality. Daily positivity rate has also been going down and is currently averaging 8.09 percent.
Alonso said the vaccine rollout remains in Phase 1 but is very close to entering Phase 2. She said the county is prepared to do large-scale vaccinations when more doses of vaccine are available. To date, 160,905 people in Palm Beach County (10.7 percent) have received vaccinations.
Retirement — The board recognized and thanked Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson, who is retiring. Johnson has been the director of the Division of Emergency Management since April 2010. County Administrator Verdenia Baker announced the promotion of Mary Blakeney, senior manager of Emergency Management Programs, to succeed Johnson as division director.
EMS — The board approved on first reading and to advertise for public hearing on Feb. 9 an amendment to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Ordinance. The current ordinance restricts governmental agencies from providing interfacility transfer services, which are termed secondary services. The Health Care District of Palm Beach County wants to develop its own hospital-based emergency medical system to provide interfacility transports of patients from Lakeside Medical Center, a public hospital in Belle Glade, to other district facilities and specialized treatment centers. This amendment will allow limited interfacility transfer services with conditions when a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN) has been obtained from the county and a license from the state.
Pond Cypress — The board approved an amendment to the deed of conservation easement for the Pond Cypress Natural Area to modify the boundary of the conservation easement. A .668-acre parcel of land needed for the State Road 7 extension project will be released from the conservation easement. In exchange, 3.95 acres of equal or higher value land will be removed from the original right of way and added to the conservation easement. There is no cost to the county.
Susan B. Anthony — Michelle Damone, National Organization of Women board director, presented the 2020 Susan B. Anthony Award to District 6 Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and the 2021 Susan B. Anthony Award to District 5 Commissioner Maria Sachs.
In Memoriam — The board observed a moment of silence for two FBI agents who were fatally shot and three others wounded while serving a federal search warrant related to a violent crimes against children case in Broward County.