WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County officials held a news conference Friday afternoon to provide an update on local efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said antigen testing for the coronavirus is coming next week to the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. About 600 to 700 of the antigen tests will be available each day.
The FDA said these diagnostic tests quickly detect "fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs."
Kerner said the rapid tests produce results in hours and a positive result is "highly accurate." However, a negative result does not rule out infection.
"Antigen testing will be very useful for our first responders, deputy sheriffs, police officers, fire rescue, so we don't have to put them into quarantine for 14 days, thereby losing very essential personnel and staff that need to be out on the street protecting us," Kerner said.
The tests will be available to residents 65 years old and older, children under the age of 18 or anyone who is symptomatic.
The positivity rate for COVID-19 in Palm Beach County is currently 6.5 percent as of Thursday, according to Kerner.
The mayor said there have been a total of 5,085 complaints in Palm Beach County about businesses not adhering to rules and regulations under phase one.
Kerner said Palm Beach County commissioners will have to meet and vote to decide to advance to phase two, which will then have to be approved by the state.
The county has decided that brick-and-mortar schools can reopen a week after phase two begins.
Kerner said once schools are open he believes the district needs to evaluate the county's metrics, numbers and positivity rate on an on-going basis to make sure kids are safe.
"I have fears about opening up two massive, basically, institutions, phase two businesses and the school board, at the same time I hope we can continue to work with the school board to find a way to stagger those two approaches," Kerner said.
Palm Beach County has 38,575 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 976 deaths, according to the latest figures provided by the Florida Department of Health.
The state said Friday that Florida's newly-reported coronavirus deaths increased by 228 as total deaths of residents passed 9,000.
At the Friday news conference, Commissioner Mack Bernard said only 61.1 percent of people in Palm Beach County have filled out their census forms. Bernard urged people to fill out their census to ensure the county receives appropriate federal funding.