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By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter

DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – The State of Florida reported a record of 156 deaths today from COVID-19, and reached its second highest day of new positive test cases with 13,965 positive tests on Thursday, according to the Florida COVID Action. The greater Delray Beach total positive cases have reached 1,556 today.

COVID-19, Coronavirus, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
The State of Florida reported a record of 156 deaths today from COVID-19, and reached its second highest day of new positive test cases with 13,965 positive tests on Thursday, image recreation.

Palm Beach County also reached its second highest day in terms of positive test results, with 923. There were four additional deaths in the county overnight bringing the total to 652. Of the County hospitals providing data, they report 667 patients are currently hospitalized, with an additional 106 ICU beds still available, representing 26 percent of the total ICU beds.

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.

Even so, 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 daily records as the data is compiled, typically 2-3 weeks late.

Delray Beach Fire Chief, Keith Tomey, admitted during the video update last week 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.”

Continuing, “[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.”

Of the 25,437 COVID-19 positive cases now in Palm Beach County, 3,041 (thirteen percent) were admitted to the emergency room. Of those, 2,191 (ten percent) were admitted into the hospital and 652 (2.7 percent) died.

COVID-19, Coronavirus, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida
Palm Beach County hospitals providing data report 667 patients currently hospitalized, with an additional 106 ICU beds still available, representing 26 percent of the total ICU beds, photo recreation.

These percentages have gotten slightly better, but the surge in total positive cases, and the median age remaining at 41 years-old is alarming authorities. Also according to the state’s DOH, the positivity rate of tests in the last six weeks is remaining higher than targets, at 11.9 percent for the county.

To fight the surging growth of COVID-19 cases and rampant spread of the virus since June, Palm Beach County issued an executive order which prohibits food or alcohol sales after 11PM in an effort to keep hospitals from being overrun.

This was in addition to the June 23rd executive order mandating masks or facial covering, 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.

Shelly Petrolia, Mayor of the City of Delray Beach, on Monday predicted businesses will suffer as cases continue to spike. “We will experience the reverse of opening up, only it may be more organic. People are already reacting to the spikes by limiting their outings. Restaurants and retail businesses are feeling the customer dip.”

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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