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Palm Beach County takes precautionary measures against coronavirus

Protocols in place at schools, jail
Posted at 4:50 PM, Mar 10, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County is putting precautionary measures against the coronavirus front and center.

County commissioners Tuesday were briefed on the virus and addressed the steps being taken to protect everyone.

The Florida Department of Health said, as of right now, there are no confirmed cases in Palm Beach County, but it's inevitable the virus will arrive here.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus

"These cases are coming in every day," said Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.

Commissioner Mack Bernard pressed the health department for specific numbers of who has been tested.

"Why can't we know how many people have been tested?" asked Bernard.

"Well, we're giving the congregate for the state so that people can't be identified," answered Alonso. "In a small community it would be very easy to track that down."

Dr. Alonso did add that first responders will now be given a home address to any possible presumptive cases to better protect themselves.

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said the board would like more information and to have access to the number of people tested.

"It would be helpful to have some aggregate number. We don't need personal identifying information, but we'd like to know the scale of where we are at now," Kerner said.

School District of Palm Beach County Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy told the board the district is being proactive with deep sanitation methods on campuses.

"In an abundance of caution, I have suspended district sponsored out-of-country field trips. I'm also recommending students and staff cancel any non-district sponsored international field trips booked through a third-party vendor," said Fennoy, who added that things could change on a case-by-case basis. "As of today, we will not cancel any graduations, but we have made the decision to not shake hands at the graduation."

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw also addressed the board, saying isolation protocols are in place at the jail, and the jail is being routinely scrubbed.

"We purchased 4,000 biological suits that will take care of the deputies on the road and the deputies at the jail," Bradshaw said.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue stated it has been meeting with local hospitals, and crews will wear protective goggles, masks, and gowns when responding to a potential patient.

The health department said Palm Beach County has enough test kits, but the elderly with chronic diseases are the most at-risk for coronavirus.

"To be informed on what's happening, who's in charge, and what steps are being taken that should put the community at ease," Kerner said. "Professionals are in charge and we're executing very well at this point."