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By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter

DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – The State of Florida reached 6,049 reported deaths from COVID-19 yesterday, July 27th, while for the first time in months, the new cases reported in the last week declined slightly. Florida has become the state with the second highest number of cases, surpassing New York, and now only trailing California.

COVID-19, Coronavirus, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
After the first weekly reduction in Palm Beach County’s reported new COVID-19 cases in almost two months, officials are optimistic that the County mask mandate will continue to reduce the spread of the virus, image recreation.

The total number of positive cases in the state is now 454,398, with 33,355 in Palm Beach County and 2,090 in the Greater Delray Beach area, a number which has doubled since the beginning of July.

Delray Beach Fire Chief, Keith Tomey, explained during a video update yesterday, that since June Florida has “a sharp uptick and that goes all the way up to about 80,000 cases [a week]. Well, this last week is the first time we’ve had a downward trend of cases in about two months.”

“We went from 80,000 last week to 74,000 this week, so in a sense we’re starting to trend downward. It is only one week but we haven’t seen anything like this in two months,” Chief Tomey said. “So this is kind of positive.”

“In Palm Beach County we are trending the same way to Florida,” he said. “We were almost at 5,000 cases last week and again, the last eight months we’ve been doing nothing but trending upward. This week we’ve actually trended downward, we’re at 4,500 cases, […] I’m hoping it continues to trend downward. We’ll see next week.”

Officials are optimistic that the County mask mandate and closure of businesses at 11PM will continue to reduce the spread of the virus. City of Delray Beach Commissioner Juli Casale said last Friday, “seems the residents have settled into the fact that wearing a mask is an effective way to combat the spread of the virus.”

COVID-19, Coronavirus, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
President Donald Trump appeared to support wearing masks this week, after offering mixed messages about the importance for months, photo internet recreation.

Even U.S. President Donald Trump, who was slow to embrace the benefits of wearing a mask to fight the pandemic, said last week, “whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact.” He also acknowledged the pandemic “will probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better.”

Of the 33,355 COVID-19 positive cases now in Palm Beach County, 773 (2.3 percent) have died. The virus continues to largely effect the older population, as only 92 (11.9 percent) of the deaths in Palm Beach County were under 54 years-old, according to the Florida COVID Action site.

For perspective, Palm Beach County has 1.497 million residents, and from 2013 to 2018 the average deaths per year in the county were between 13,500 and 15,000, with the leading causes being heart disease, cancer and strokes.

Still Chief Tomey said, “remember for a while we had all these new cases that were going up, and we had very little death rate. But now what happens, because it does take about two weeks to process through the autopsies and everything else in the paperwork, now we’re seeing that the deaths are starting to catch up.”

COVID-19, Coronavirus, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
The number of reported COVID-19 deaths in Palm Beach County are rising steadily as it catches up with the new cases several weeks later, image recreation.

Many locals have heard that former City of Delray Beach Mayor, Jeff Perlman, had been admitted to Bethesda Hospital with COVID-19. Perlman wrote in a statement available July 11th, “Last night I tested positive for Covid and pneumonia.”

Continuing, “I was admitted to Bethesda Hospital where they are taking great care of me. I was careful: masks and social distancing but I did go to a few restaurants. I’ve been working remotely for months. I post this to urge you to be careful and to take this seriously.”

Fortunately yesterday he wrote, “Last night I was moved out of ICU. I’m in a ‘step down’ unit still on oxygen. So Im making slow but steady progress. It’s going to be a long road. It’s hard for me to move and breath. But I’m determined to go home.”

Of the County hospitals providing data, they report 616 patients are currently hospitalized, with an additional 133 ICU beds still available, representing 31.4 percent of the total ICU beds.

To help with the devastating economic impact from the coronavirus, the City of Delray Beach provides a food assistance list where those in need can get food. From prepared meals for pick-up, grocery pick-up, food panties and even delivery options.

Palm Beach County’s Interactive Testing Map has over seventy testing sites, and can help residents find the closest private or community based testing location for them.

For more information or to contact the COVID Education Compliance Team, please call 561-24COVID (561-242-6843) or email covidcompliance@pbcgov.org.

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