By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – As the nation reels from a surge in COVID-19 cases, Palm Beach County and City of Delray Beach officials are concerned about the upcoming holiday season. With a vaccine still months away from significant impact, the county has reached a total of 69,855 positive cases, and 1,744 deaths.
For comparison, Palm Beach County has 1.497 million residents, and in 2019 there were 14,839 deaths. The leading causes being heart disease (3,871), cancer (3,211) and strokes (1,172). The county’s mortality rate – comparing positive cases against deaths – is 2.5 percent, slightly higher than the state’s 1.8 percent.
Yesterday, December 8th, County Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso warned that between the already alarming increase in cases, we are adding the upcoming holiday season and arrival of snowbirds from harder hit areas. “We have three whammos happening at the same time,” she said.
Dr. Alonso also spoke about the county’s high positivity rate. On Tuesday, it jumped to its second-highest level in the past two weeks as 8.03 percent. Over the past two weeks, the daily average is seven percent, however on November 30th it reached ten percent.
In the greater Delray Beach area the number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 4,963 yesterday (December 8th), according to the Florida COVID Action site. This is double what the number was in August, four months ago.
On Monday, December 7th, Delray Beach Emergency Manager Chris Bell discussed the recent record-breaking rise in Covid-19 cases in Palm Beach County, and encouraged residents and their families to follow the CDC guidelines and avoid travel this holiday season.
“We want to encourage people to do everything they can to stop or slow the spread, particularly after the Thanksgiving holiday and leading into the December holidays,” he said. “It’s important to really consider what you’re going to do and start to make plans.”
“What we’ve seen over the past weeks really is our numbers in Florida and in Palm Beach County specifically continue to rise, we see in Florida now we had a spate of three or four days in a row of more than 10,000 new cases per day,” Bell explained. “We haven’t seen numbers like that since late July and early August, so it’s very very concerning.”
Mr. Bell went on to explain throughout the pandemic, after there is a rise in cases a couple of weeks after that there is a corresponding rise in the number of hospital admissions. A certain percentage will then get admitted to the ICU, and “because those are the sickest of the sick of the disease, and unfortunately some of those will die.”
Bell reiterated, “wearing masks and avoiding crowded places for in close contact with people is the best way to prevent you and your family from getting explosive coronavirus potentially getting sick.”
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.