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Palm Beach County won't reopen until 'peak' of coronavirus cases is reached

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Posted at 3:00 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 18:23:33-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — 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 on Friday.

Mayor Dave Kerner said the county won't begin the reopening process until after it hits its "peak" of cases, or the point of highest hospitalizations from COVID-19.

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

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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," said Dr. Alonso. "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.

"At this time, we do not meet the triggers to decrease social distancing," said Dr. Alonso.

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According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 1,962 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palm Beach County, including 113 deaths.

60 percent of coronavirus cases in Florida are in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

Because of that, Mayor Kerner said the three counties, along with Monroe County, will follow the same guidelines and work in conjunction with one another once the reopening process begins.

"Regardless of what the less urban counties to the north of us do, we have to look at our community as part of a regional area. That includes the three major counties and Monroe," Kerner said.

The mayor encouraged residents to continue practicing social distancing guidelines and wear face coverings in public.

"There are plans for the future. There is light at the end of this tunnel. That doesn't mean that we're ready to transition to a different way of living life just this moment," Kerner said.

For the latest information about the coronavirus response in Palm Beach County, click here.