By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – As the surge in new reported COVID-19 cases across the state is slowing down the last few weeks, the amount tallied this week is still three times more than it was at the beginning of June. In Palm Beach County, there are now twice as many cases as there were just thirty days ago, and almost thirty percent more deaths in the same period.
In the greater Delray Beach area the number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 2,573 yesterday, just over double the number on July 11th (1,283), a month ago, according to the Florida COVID Action site.
In the State of Florida, an additional 213 deaths were recorded yesterday, far above the average of 174 deaths reported daily over the past two weeks. Just on Tuesday the State saw the record-setting 277 fatalities. The deaths yesterday include fourteen in Palm Beach County.
Since the pandemic began in March, there have been only seven times that more than 200 deaths were reported in a single day. All of those record-breaking days have come since July 29th. The state’s death toll now stands at 8,898, including 970 Palm Beach County residents, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Just thirty days ago, on July 11th, the total was 620 Palm Beach County deaths, an increase of 350 by August 12th. The 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).
For those questioning the severity of the virus, last year only 178 died from influenza and pneumonia in the county. Also, if 350 people died from COVID-19 in Palm Beach County every month for a year, that would be the leading cause of death with a total of 4,200.
On Tuesday, August 11th, the Board of County Commissioners received an update from Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County, and Bill Johnson, director of Palm Beach County Emergency Management on local COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Dr. Alonso reported the total people tested positivity rate statewide is 13.36 percent; Palm Beach County’s rate is just below at 13.22 percent. Hendry County, which borders Palm Beach County to the west, reports the highest total tested positivity rate in the state at 21.3 percent.
“It would be a disaster to go to Phase 2 [reopening] with these numbers,” said Dr. Alonso. She said five percent is the goal, “because that is where it is possible to do effective contact tracing.”
Over the past week, the countywide hospitalization rate has decreased by about 100 per day, and ICU cases have gone down by an average of seven fewer per day. ICU utilization in Palm Beach County is about 31 percent, and hospital bed space capacity stands at just at under fifty percent, according to health officials.
Last Friday Palm Beach County Mayor, Dave Kerner, talked about the COVID Education Compliance Team (CECT) increasing their focus on compliance enforcement of state and county mandates. For more information or to contact the COVID Education Compliance Team, please call 561-24COVID (561-242-6843) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.