By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – The State of Florida has reached it’s second highest day of new COVID-19 cases with 11,433 positive tests on Thursday, almost as much as the July 3rd record which was slightly higher. The greater Delray Beach total positive cases are at 1,245 today.
In Palm Beach County 12 of the 16 hospitals providing data have fewer than ten ICU beds available, and there are currently 95 ICU beds available, which is a small improvement from yesterday. However the county hit a grim milestone of 600 deaths from COVID-19 today.
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, authorities and medical professionals are concerned as the number of cases have exploded since June, and the number of deaths is starting to reach new records as the data is compiled, typically 2-3 weeks late.
The Palm Beach Post wrote Thursday saw a record-setting 120 fatalities reported in Florida, including nine in Palm Beach County. As Delray Beach Fire Rescue Chief, Keith Tomey, shared during the City’s video update this morning, “we had our first ever three digit death, with 120 deaths in one day this week.”
Adding, “It takes time for the autopsies and the cause of death to come in and it’s usually a two week turnaround time. So that’s the first time we’ve seen 120 deaths [across Florida] in one day so that’s pretty alarming.”
The numbers in the greater Delray Beach area, including zip codes 33483, 33444, 33445, 33446, 33484 reached 1,245 on Friday morning. An increase of 31 new cases overnight, added on top of 36 cases the night before, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Chief Tomey said today, “We were in single digits for such a long time and our overnight increases. And now we’re seeing in Delray Beach that we’re doing actual double digits. Overnight double digits.”
On June 23rd the Palm Beach County voted to issue a mask mandate, but there is resistance by some, and anyone passing through Atlantic Avenue will see few pedestrians wearing masks. The executive order requires masks ‘when social distancing is not possible’, however enforcement seems unclear.
Sergeant Gary Ferreri of the Delray Beach Police Department said this morning, “The restaurants in Delray have been complying with very few issues. City code enforcement and clean and safe officers have been proactive since the reopening assisting the businesses.”
Adding, “People need to follow the mandates, wear their masks, wash and sanitize their hands. None of us want to go backwards, we all want to move to the next phase and the quicker people abide by the current mandates, follow best practices the quicker we will enter the next phase.”
Chief Tomey admitted during the video update that he thinks a lot of people are still not wearing masks when they should be. “I think wearing masks is probably the number one thing we can do right now. [it is] the biggest thing right now because we know it transfers from droplets. So either six feet distance like we are, or have a mask on at all times.”
“I am optimistic that residents are following the guidelines,” he said. “However, we can always do better, and we must do better, if we want to see the numbers level off. More than ever, we want to see the curve flatten now.”
Palm Beach County’s Interactive Testing Map has over 62 testing sites, and can help residents find the closest private or community based testing location for them.