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Palm Beach County says decision to reopen will be medically responsible

Mayor not ready to reopen before peak of coronavirus
Posted at 7:27 PM, Apr 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 08:46:07-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Balancing serious questions about the economy and public health are at the forefront of conversation across the country.

Palm Beach County leaders said plans to reopen non-essential businesses will come in phases, but it won't happen until the county reaches its peak of cases.

Non-essential businesses, parks, public and private beaches, boat ramps, and public and private golf courses in Palm Beach County will remain closed for the "foreseeable future" to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, officials announced Friday.

Mayor Dave Kerner said the county is monitoring the economic ramifications of the closures.

However, officials stand firm in their decision to stall the reopening process until the county reaches its "peak" of cases, or the point of highest hospitalizations from COVID-19.

"We can't look at it as a national day that the economy reopens," Kerner said. "We're going to do so based on science and medical data what we're able to accommodate."

Kerner went on to say Palm Beach County's elderly population is most vulnerable and stated nursing home communities could be a "potential area of devastation" if stringent measures are not followed.

Dr. Alina Alonso, the health director for Palm Beach County, said the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has predicted a surge in coronavirus cases for Florida in the first week of May.

"That's a little bit similar to hurricane models. You just gotta stay in the cone," Alonso said. "It's a good cone. It gives us some credible information based on that data."

The doctor wouldn't give an exact date for when Palm Beach County's anticipated "peak" of COVID-19 cases will be, only suggesting that it could be early May.

"We cannot contemplate opening up any activity that exposes us to COVID-19 prior to that surge," Kerner said.