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No stay-at-home order in West Palm Beach, mayor says

Posted at 10:23 AM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 17:05:25-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — West Palm Beach is looking into a sweeping stay-at-home order for residents, but at this point, city leaders are not issuing one.

That was the message from Mayor Keith James on Friday morning.

"We don't rule out anything," the mayor said during a news conference. "Right now, we're not implementing a stay-at-home order, but we're certainly looking at it."

James said it doesn't make sense to issue a stay-at-home order in West Palm Beach when both Palm Beach County and the state of Florida haven't issued one.

"Also, it's an issue with enforcement," the mayor said. "I don't want to tie up our law enforcement by running around and telling people to stay in their home."


FULL NEWS CONFERENCE: Mayor Keith James announces new coronavirus response in West Palm Beach

The city of Boca Raton along with Broward County issued shelter-in-place orders on Thursday, urging residents to stay in their homes unless they need to leave for "essential activities."

Those activities include going to the grocery store, doctor's offices, pharmacies, and child care facilities, among other places.

Instead of following suit with a stay-at-home order, Mayor James instead said on Friday that West Palm Beach residents should continue practicing social distancing as much as possible.

"This is something, ladies and gentlemen, that we all have to do to help each other," the mayor said. "By the actions that we take, we are helping our neighbor."

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According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Palm Beach as of Thursday at 5 p.m.

Only Boca Raton has more cases in Palm Beach County with 28.

On Friday, Mayor James announced the creation of the West Palm Beach COVID-19 Response Unit, which is made up of local leaders to expand the city's resources and response to the pandemic.

The mayor said the unit will provide relief to small businesses, residents experiencing financial and housing hardships, the homeless, senior citizens, children, and families.

"We are adapting quickly to make sure we can take care of our residents," the mayor said.

The city has developed a program to offer up to two months of free rent for certain residents who are facing eviction.

In addition, an economic recovery fund will provide struggling small businesses with micro-loans of $10,000 or less.

"It's simple. We have to work together under one plan," Mayor James said. "We are working together as one city, one team, and with one mission"

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Last week, Mayor James told WPTV that field hospitals may be needed in the city as the coronavirus pandemic puts pressure on our local medical facilities.

"We may even need the military or National Guard to come in and start setting up military-type hospital operations," Mayor James said. "As this disease continues to spread, it's going to put a tremendous strain on our health care professionals."


FULL INTERVIEW: West Palm Beach mayor talks about need for field hospitals

The mayor, who declared a state of emergency in West Palm Beach earlier this month, said the key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 is for our community to work together.

"This is very serious. Please take it seriously. This pandemic is a serious threat to our entire community," Mayor James said. "We will get through this, but it's gonna require all of us working together."

West Palm Beach is updating its residents regularly about closures, cancellations, and resources through the city's website.