WEST PALM BEACH -- During an afternoon news conference at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center on April 17, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner announced the local state of emergency has been extended for a sixth time. Palm Beach County’s orders to close public and private beaches, parks, boat ramps, and public and private golf courses, as well as non-essential businesses remain in place. The decision to maintain these closures is based on science and data of the coronavirus. “We’re tracking the spread, we’re tracking the testing, and we’re tracking the results,” Mayor Kerner said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed a task force to coordinate a phased reopening of the state. Local reopenings will not necessarily occur at the same time as other areas. Palm Beach County is coordinating with Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties on a framework for a phased restart of public and private beaches, parks, boat ramps, golf courses, and some non-essential businesses throughout South Florida.
“As we roll this out, we will be working with our partners not only in Palm Beach County but to the south of us, and we’ll share some of our information with our neighbors to the north of us as well,” said County Administrator Verdenia Baker. “We need to have a unified front so our residents are very clear on what’s allowed and what is not allowed.” A rollout start date has not been set.
Keys to getting to a phased reopening:
-- Get tested for COVID-19;
-- Practice social distancing;
-- Stay at home;
-- Go out only for essential trips;
-- Wear a mask or facial covering in public.
Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County, said a total of 11,966 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Palm Beach County with 1,867 testing positive. To date, 113 people have died from COVID-19 in the county. Number of new confirmed cases this week: April 12 – 54; April 13 – 56; April 14 – 47; April 15 – 71. “Our curve has been flat at times, but we’re still having spikes,” Dr. Alonso said. She noted that hospitalizations have been steady, but ICU utilization has increased along with the number of fatalities.
Testing at drive-thru sites has been ongoing since March 31. You do not have to be symptomatic to come to the West Palm Beach drive-thru site at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, but appointments are required. Call 561-642-1000. The South County Civic Center site will test anyone over age 16 who is symptomatic. Call 561-804-0250 for an appointment. The walk-up testing site in Belle Glade is being expanded to accommodate drive-ups. Another drive-thru testing site, at the Royal Palm Beach Walmart, is tentatively slated to open next week.