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UPDATED: PBC Officials “Concerned” with Increase in COVID-19 Cases

Palm Beach County leaders expressed concerns on Thursday regarding the increase in coronavirus here.

“Our numbers are starting to increase. We knew they would increase slightly, but they are increasing more than anticipated,” said Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker. “If these numbers continue to climb, we’re not gonna be able to move forward, and we definitely don’t want to move backwards.”

While speaking at a new COVID-19 testing site at the Greenacres Community Center, officials emphasized the importance for people to wear face coverings in public and practice social distancing.

“We don’t look in the rearview mirror,” said Mayor Dave Kerner. “Am I concerned about the numbers going up? Of course I’m concerned. Did I anticipate numbers going up? Absolutely. If we open up the economy, it’s a pretty practical thought process to think we’re gonna see some community spread.”

He added that the community spread is being managed correctly in the county, and that the rate of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions continue to trend downward.

“That means our most vulnerable are being protected,” Kerner explained. “We’re not gonna stand around and say we made a mistake and cry about it. We’re gonna pick ourselves up and move forward.”

Last week, Kerner and Baker sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, asking that Palm Beach County be allowed to enter Phase Two of Florida’s reopening plan.

Under Phase Two, which excludes Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties for now, bars and entertainment venues such as movie theaters are allowed to reopen.

However, Palm Beach County does not want to allow standalone bars to reopen just yet.

Kerner also said on Thursday he has not heard from DeSantis about the request to join Phase Two, but he is in contact with the governor’s staff.

“The chief of staff did promise me that they would respond in due course, and I would expect a response any day,” said Kerner.

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, Palm Beach County has 7,887 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“The virus is still here. It has not gone away,” said Dr. Alino Alonso, the health director for Palm Beach County. “It is still affecting many people. There is still community spread.”

She emphasized, “It is not contained in any way, shape or form.”