By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – Today (Friday, June 26th), saw a shocking one-day surge of COVID-19 cases in Florida, with 8,942 new infections, according to the State Department of Health. Palm Beach County also shattered previous records, with 658 new cases, just a day after a new mandatory mask order was instituted.
The previous statewide one-day high was set just on Wednesday, was 5,508 new cases. Over the last three days, cases have risen by 19,457, leading the State to roll-back on a ‘Phase 2’ reopening allowance for bar-top seating. This does not effect Palm Beach County though, where bars are not yet open as they remain in Phase 1.
Halsey Beshears, Florida’s Secretary of Department of Business and Professional Regulation wrote, “Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide.”
Today, June 26th, Florida’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have reached a total of 122,960, with 3,461 deaths, an increase of 288 since Monday. Palm Beach County has recorded a total of 12,498 with 503 deaths, an increase of 35 in the same time period.
Palm Beach County hasn’t had a single day increase over 400 since the pandemic started to be tracked in March, making the 658 new cases recorded this morning more alarming. Palm Beach County, which has about 500,000 fewer residents than Broward County, has had 100 more deaths.
At 4.1 percent, the number of people in the county who have died in comparison to how many people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, far exceeds the state’s 2.92 percent fatality rate.
In the City’s video update this morning, Delray Beach Fire Rescue Chief Tomey said to the viewers, “Again, just follow the new mask order that just came out, follow all the CDC guidelines. Wear your mask, wash your hands don’t touch your mouth or face. Just do what’s right, and guys you know what’s right. Just do it. ”
On Tuesday, the Palm Beach County Commission met and voted by 7-0 in favor of mandatory mask order. The order came into effect yesterday, and applies inside all buildings and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Exempted are persons age two and under and individuals with respiratory conditions that preclude the use of a mask.
At the meeting Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health, explained the current data available at the beginning of the meeting, and said “Public Health laws are to protect the public, for when emergencies like this occur.”
On Wednesday Shelly Petrolia, Mayor for the City of Delray Beach, said “I am pleased with the County Commission’s decision to mandate masks countywide. It is both a responsible and reasonable response to the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.”
Last Friday (June 19th) County Mayor Dave Kerner announced 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’.
For 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.
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.