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Palm Beach County declares a COVID State of Emergency

Virus Outbreak ICU Christmas
COVID-19 patient’s room in the intensive care unit. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

Palm Beach County leaders have declared a local state of emergency due to a “disturbing” shortage of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

The shortage has forced hospitals to transfer emergency room patients to Miami and Orlando.

The state of emergency also paves the way for additional medical personnel from other parts of the state and country to come to the aid of struggling Palm Beach County.

Darcy Davis, the CEO of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, told WPTV there’s currently direct “real-time” data that reveals which local hospital ICU wards are specifically accepting COVID-19 patients.

“When you look at a dashboard and it says, hey, there’s bed availability, that may not be for a COVID positive patient,” Davis said. “So it’s very difficult for us when we’re looking to rely on the system.”

Emergency rooms are reportedly so packed with coronavirus patients that some ambulances have had to wait hours outside hospitals before a sick person could be admitted

“We have observed some delays at some facilities,” Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Chief Reginald Duren told WPTV. “We’re certainly challenged, but we’re working through it as best we can.”

Palm Beach County health director Dr. Alina Alonso said it may be difficult for the county to get additional medical personnel because the current surge of COVID-19 cases is happening on a national level.

“It’s happening everywhere at the same time,” Alonso said. “And the fact that it’s happening all over the state, all over the country, it’s difficult to get resources from other places.”

Meanwhile, in Broward county, a local doctor is seeing some encouraging signs when it comes to COVID-19.
Dr. Joshua Lenchus, the interim Chief Medical Officer at Broward Health, says there has been a decline in recent days in the number of cases. He’s worried, though, that there could be an increase as more kids return to school Wednesday. Dr. Lenchus says “kids are the biggest variable at this point.”