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State of emergency issued in Palm Beach County over coronavirus

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Posted at 12:44 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 20:25:58-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A state of emergency has been issued in Palm Beach County to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, officials announced Friday.

It comes after two county residents tested positive for the virus.

Mayor Dave Kerner said the state of emergency will allow Palm Beach County to have access to more resources from the federal and state government to fight coronavirus, or COVID-19.

"This state of emergency should not change anything in your life except to pay more attention to what's going on, to be diligent in watching out for your personal health, and being even more concerned about not interacting unnecessarily or unscreened with vulnerable members of our community, i.e. those that are 65 years of age or older," said Kerner.

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Dr. Alina Alonso, the health director of Palm Beach County, said the state of emergency will increase the availability of coronavirus testing kits for the county.

Palm Beach County public schools will be closed for at least two weeks starting on Monday, March 16.

"My plan today is to close schools at least through the last day of Spring Break, which is Friday, March 27," said Dr. Donald Fennoy, Superintendent of Schools. "Over the next two weeks we'll evaluate that timeline and decide if it is in our best interest to extend that date."

County officials added that the Florida primary election on Tuesday, March 17 will still take place.

"Next Tuesday we will be voting," said County Administrator Verdenia Baker. "I want to remind you that early voting is occurring as we speak, and that will be through March 15."

Baker added that all county facilities and libraries will remain open at this time.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus

According to the latest numbers from the state, 50 Florida residents have been infected with COVID-19, and two have died.

In addition, two Palm Beach County men have tested positive for coronavirus.

The patients, ages 73 and 74, contracted the virus while traveling outside of the United States, health officials said. The men will remain in isolation until they're cleared by doctors.

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Florida now has a COVID-19 Call Center set up to answer your questions 24/7. The number is 1-866-779-6121.

For the latest information about coronavirus cases in Florida, click here.