By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – In the last week, Florida has seen record numbers of COVID-19 cases, reaching the 100,000 mark Monday morning. While the number in Palm Beach County is also rising quickly, the median age has fallen from 47 on June 10th, to now 44.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at a Saturday news conference in Tallahassee, and said that with more testing, and testing of younger people, the numbers are bound to go up but death count will not correlate.
“Our cases are shifting in a radical direction younger,” he said. “We’re seeing a major shift in the direction of the 20- to 30-year-old population … even if they develop symptoms in the younger groups, it is usually mild; the morbidity is low.”
Still, Florida health officials reported a nearly twelve percent positivity rate among new COVID-19 tests again on Sunday, up from five percent positive results a week ago. At a Palm Beach County press conference on Friday, June 19th, Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health, explained the recent trends.
At the time ‘Phase 1’ reopening began, the county averaged 68 new cases per day. That number has more than tripled to 220 per day. The countywide positivity rate continues to increase, as well, she said, an indication the virus is thriving again.
“As we opened and people started feeling better, we started loosening up and everybody felt a little better. Then the virus had more people to attack and make positive. That is what’s going on,” said Alonso.
“If we want to keep our businesses open, and save the lives of those who are most affected by this virus,” Dr. Alonso said, “we also need to follow [Governor DeSantis’] orders that were given to us when we decided to open.”
To help the country stem the tide, authorities are leaning on businesses to keep CDC guidelines. County Mayor Dave Kerner announced Friday the formation of the COVID Education Compliance Team (CECT) which will ‘work to educate and bring businesses into compliance with state and local enforcement orders required by the governor’.
Today, Monday, June 22nd, Florida’s COVID-19 cases have reached a total of 100,217, with 3,173 deaths, an increase of 235 since last Monday. Palm Beach County has recorded a total of 10,943 with 468 deaths, an increase of 39 in the same time period.
To put that in perspective for Palm Beach County, it 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.
“This is not your common cold and it’s not just going to go away.” Dr. Alonso said. “This is a serious pandemic. Probably the most serious pandemic that this world has seen. It’s all around the world. It’s not just here. Unfortunately, the United States right now is the number one in terms of the highest number of cases, and the highest number of deaths in the world.”
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.