WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Palm Beach County are down, but that doesn't mean we can let our guard down, too.
That was the message from Palm Beach County health director Dr. Alina Alonso on Tuesday, who warned another coronavirus surge could come during the winter months and over the holiday season.
"We cannot be complacent and we can't let our guard down," Alonso told county commissioners. "We are still in high community transmission."
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According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, Palm Beach County tallied 2,416 new COVID-19 cases during the week of Sept. 24 to 30, down sharply from the 9,000 weekly cases the county had been averaging in August.
Palm Beach County's daily COVID-19 positivity rate — seen by health officials as a benchmark indicator of illness in the community — has dropped to 6.5%.
Hospitalizations among both adults and children are also decreasing, with more COVID-19 patients being discharged than admitted as of Oct. 3. Unvaccinated patients represent 84% of current hospital admissions in Palm Beach County.
"We're definitely seeing a very nice curve going down. And we hope that we can sustain that until at least the winter months," Alonso said.
Despite those encouraging numbers, Alonso warned of another possible spike in cases over the coming months, as it's typical for viruses from the Southern Hemisphere to migrate north during the winter.
"We have to be ready in case that happens," Alonso said. "We need to be prepared in case there's another surge coming in the winter and the holidays approaching."
Part of those preparations, according to Alonso, is the continued use of facial coverings and vaccinations. The health director said COVID-19 inoculations in Palm Beach County are "going well," but she'd like to see more.
As of Tuesday, 64% of Palm Beach County residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"Vaccinations remain the most important tool to stop the spread and save lives," Alonso said.