WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In a not-so-surprising move, Palm Beach County commissioners voted to declare a state of emergency. The decision was unanimous.
A number of them site delays at emergency rooms, full intensive care units and dwindling medical supplies as the reason for the certification.
The decision will now require daily updates from the county's 13 private hospitals on any available beds.
County health director Dr. Alina Alonso said vaccinations are not happening fast enough to stop rising cases.
"That's what I hope this emergency order will do is make people aware that COVID has not gone away and is very serious and a lot of people coming down with it," she said.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Kleper De Almeida is on the front lines of the fight as the delta variant fuels a surge exceeding last year's numbers.
"When we think about our situation currently in Palm Beach County, most hospitals have 25% more COVID patients than they had at their peak last year," he said.
De Almeida said we have not yet reached the peak locally.
"It's expected that this rise in numbers in Palm Beach will last at least another two weeks and, more realistically, another four to six weeks," he said.
De Almeida said the situation could be prevented because of highly effective vaccines.
But will the ongoing surge and emergency declaration have residents taking added precautions?
"I'm a little nervous about it, I'll tell you the truth. I'm already vaccinated, so I'm trying to do my part," Edward Williams said.
Mylie De Backer isn't ready to be vaccinated.
"I'm not getting vaccinated right now just because I'm waiting until it's completely (Food and Drug Administration approved. I'm kind of worried about some of the side effects," she said.
While Dune Costes said safety first.
"I think that it's important to get vaccinated so things are moving forward and going forward," she said.
The county's state of emergency does not mean a new mask mandate or business restrictions. Those moves have been banned by the governor.
The declaration will be in effect for seven days.
To read the Palm Beach County emergency declaration letter, click here.