On Friday, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner held a press conference to discuss the current spike in COVID-19 positivity rates in South Florida and steps that are being taken in Palm Beach County to lower the numbers and keep citizens safe.
On Thursday, the county reported 923 new cases of COVID-19, the second-highest daily number to date (behind the daily high of 1,171 reported on July 12). Health officials are closely watching the cumulative positivity rate, which stands at 12 percent. Three weeks ago, it was 9 percent.
“Nothing is off the table,” Mayor Kerner replied when asked if officials may have to revert to shutting down the local economy to stop the community spread. “We have some work to do,” he said. “We are in what I would call a plateau in positivity. What we need to do is keep this manageable.”
There are no plans at this time to impose a curfew, as Broward County has ordered. However, Palm Beach County has issued an order that states no establishment permitted to serve food for on-site consumption, whether indoor or outdoor, shall serve food between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Delivery, drive-through, pick-up, or take-out services are permitted for off-site consumption.
In an effort to help slow the community spread, “Combat COVID” masks will be mailed out to all Palm Beach County households [this] week. The “Combat COVID” app is also expected to launch. It notifies those who download the app when they come in close proximity to another app user who has tested positive. “It is cutting-edge technology,” said Mayor Kerner. “It is the type of technology that needs to be developed in the heat of the moment like this.”
The COVID Education and Compliance Team (CECT), which conducts unannounced visits to businesses that may not be following mask and social distancing rules, has been very effective, the mayor said. Over 3,300 complaints have been received on the COVID hotline.
“We are gaining compliance and it’s starting to bear some real fruit for this community,” said Mayor Kerner. “It has changed the conduct and the way people feel about compliance.”
On July 20, 10,347 new COVID-19 cases were reported, pushing the state’s numbers to 360,394 cases and 5,072 resident deaths.
Palm Beach County’s cases increased by 641 to 26,426, with the death toll now at 685.
Miami-Dade County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by 2,797 to 87,035. The county has 1,309 coronavirus-related deaths, the highest total in the state. While in Broward, cases increased by 1,695 to 40,976, with 512 deaths.