By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – Palm Beach County recorded 1,206 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, setting a new single-day record, and while the Sunday numbers were less, City officials are concerned and asking the State to have more authority to enforce local safety measures.
In the greater Delray Beach area the number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 6,745 cases yesterday, according to the Florida COVID Action site. This continues a climb which has doubled since September, and grown by thirty percent since November.
On Friday (January 8th), the City of Delray Beach issued Resolution No. 36-21 strongly urging Governor Ron Desantis to pull back Executive Order 20-244 which hinders local government’s ability to respond to the pandemic and prevents local authorities from enforcing safety measures, such as social distancing and mask mandates.
“With the number of infections continuing to rise, the City Commission hopes that by enacting this resolution they will be joining with other municipalities in sending the Governor a message that local governments need to be able to address the specific needs of, and risks to, their communities,” Jennifer Alvarez, Interim City Manager, said.
Florida now has a total of 1,464,697 cases, with 22,804 resident deaths reported as of January 9th according to the State Department of Health. For perspective, the state has 21 million residents, and in 2019 there were 206,975 deaths, the leading causes being heart disease (47,044), cancer (45,562) and strokes (13,868) – homicides were 1,331.
Palm Beach County has 89,675 recorded cases with 1,955 resident deaths, and twelve new deaths today reaching 75 for the week. 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).
This means Covid-19 is now set to be the third biggest killer in Florida and in Palm Beach County. The majority of those 22,804 deaths in Florida were above 66 years old, but 1,143 were age 40-54, and 2,881 were age 55-65, more than ten percent.
Meanwhile a total of 514,300 vaccines have been administered statewide, and 34,263 vaccines have been administered in Palm Beach County (.0022842 percent of the 1.5 million population).
Samer Fahmy, M.D., chief medical officer at Boca Raton Regional Hospital explained, “With COVID-19, you need up to 75- or 80-percent of people to have immunity to really halt the transmission and to slow it down to the point where we can go back to normal.”
Madeline Camejo, chief pharmacy officer and vice president of pharmacy services at Baptist Health South Florida, said, “My guess would be that we’re going to stay in phase one for all the healthcare workers and the long-term care folks, probably until about mid-February.”
Admitting, “[As] of right now, I would say probably that phase two would probably be from February until about April. And then, maybe we could get to the general public closer to late spring, early summer.”