PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Six weeks after the mask mandate was lifted in Palm Beach County per Gov. Ron DeSantis' order on May 3, the county and state continue to see COVID-19 cases decline.
On May 3, the daily lab positivity rate for Palm Beach County COVID-19 cases was at 5.8%.
Six weeks later, the new case positivity for the county as of the state’s report on June 11 is at 2.9%.
But what happened in the weeks after the mask mandate was lifted potentially helps show why we continue to see a drop in the cases.
Even though COVID-19 cases were already on a downward trend prior to the removal of the mask mandate in Palm beach County, some people admit they were nervous about change.
"I thought it would have an impact cause the virus is still here, it’s still out there," said North Palm Beach resident Eddie Adamson.
"I was pretty nervous when they lifted the mask mandate. I didn't really think it was that great of an idea," said Palm Beach County resident Shayla Smith.
Not only has the daily lab positivity rate dropped under 5%, it’s now at 2.9%.
Hospital bed use across the county dropped from less than 4% on May 4 to less than 3% last week.
"Guess what? I have a secret for you, the vaccines work," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Leslie Diaz.
Diaz said the fact that 12-year-olds and up also became eligible to get the vaccine a week after mask mandates were lifted was a game changer.
"If you vaccinate them, guess what’s going to happen? That huge potential of spreading it to the vulnerable adults goes down," Diaz said.
22% of the total population of 12 to 19-year-olds in the state are now vaccinated.
"I think the people are getting vaccinated and I think it's an important thing for people to get vaccinated," said Palm Beach County resident John O. Manning.
Manning and Eddie Adamson said they are both vaccinated but are keeping to outdoor activities mostly, including dining outside. When they go indoors, they said they both will keep wearing their masks for now.
"I'm back to somewhat normal now, but I don't know when the cases seem to be a lot more minimal, less than they are," Adamson said.