By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – During a news conference yesterday, June 19th, County Mayor Dave Kerner announced 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’.
“The emphasis of the COVID Education Compliance Team will be education first,” explained Mayor Kerner. “However, there are some bad actors out there. So there will be an enforcement aspect.”
Authorities say that team members will proactively conduct spot inspections of local businesses and public venues, noting where masks are not being worn and social distancing is not being consistently practiced.
“There are bad actors in this community,” Mayor Kerner repeated during the half hour press conference. “We will utilize the full force of the law […] Notices to appear, regulatory restrictions, pulling relevant licenses, and in the most rare circumstances, criminal prosecution.”
The team is comprised of representatives from state and local agencies including the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County Code Enforcement and Fire Rescue, the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County and police departments from Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach.
During the press conference, Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County reported current numbers regarding recent cases of COVID-19.
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.
As of Friday morning, the confirmed cumulative cases are 2,191,371 in the U.S., with more than 118,467 deaths. Florida reports 89,748 coronavirus cases, while deaths reach 3,104. In Palm Beach County, the confirmed cases have jumped up to 10,116, and deaths total 464.
To put that in 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.
Across the country there have been 115,827 deaths due to COVID-19 reported already in 2020, in 2018 there were 2,813,503 registered deaths for the entire year, in a country of 331,002,651 people.
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.