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Officials: Use face coverings in Palm Beach County to help slow spread of coronavirus

West Palm Beach, Palm Beach also encourage face coverings
Posted at 11:49 AM, Apr 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 08:19:29-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach County Emergency Order takes effect Monday, advising residents to wear a cloth facial cover in public. The directive specifically addresses workers and shoppers who may be in a location that limits their ability to follow social distancing measures.

“All persons working in, patronizing, or otherwise physically present in grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, construction sites, public transit vehicles, vehicles for hire, and locations where social distancing measures are not possible should wear facial coverings as defined by the CDC,” the order reads. “All other persons physically present in any public place in Palm Beach County are strongly urged to wear facial coverings as defined by the CDC.”

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A facial covering includes any covering which snugly covers the lower face, nose, and mouth, whether store bought or homemade mask, or clothing covering.

A scarf, bandana, handkerchief or other similar cloth coverings are acceptable if it’s secured in place.

“It is advised that everyone who needs to be closer than 6 feet wear face coverings immediately,” said Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker in a statement Saturday. Baker also stressed the importance of slowing the spread by using facial covers.

Officials are not advising the public to procure surgical masks or N95 rated masks that are critical need among health care workers, first responders, and law enforcement officers.

On Saturday, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Town of Palm Beach issued alerts encouraging residents start wearing a face cover in public that covers their mouth and nose.

Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Lake Worth Beach issued similar orders to residents last week.

This Emergency Order in Palm Beach County follows a similar move made by leaders in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. However, residents in those areas are required to wear a face cover in public.

“I think everyone is starting to see more aggressive measures and faster implementation of recommendations,” said Dr. Attila Hertelendy.

Dr. Hertelendy is a business professor at Florida International University in Miami. The professor also specializes in disaster and emergency management.

Dr. Hertelendy recently moderated an online forum for South Florida doctors and health care professionals to collaborate and share best practices to tackle the virus.

During the online meeting, a representative from Cleveland Clinic reported an exponential jump in demand and offerings for telehealth over the last three weeks.

The recent spike is also igniting new conversations to find innovative ways to provide quality and efficient care to patients.

While the White House ‘30 Day Stay At Home’ guidance is still considered one of the most powerful weapon against COVID-19, CDC’s recommendation to wear a cloth face covering may help protect the most vulnerable.

Dr. Hertelendy also claims that the use face covers in public are is a simple and smart tool to limit community transmission. Less transmission means fewer cases, which will flatten the curve of positive coronavirus cases reported.

“[Wearing face covers] will help lessen the workload on our frontline workers and hospitals. This needs to be done so we can get people back to work as soon as possible,” said Dr. Hertelendy.

As a Palm Beach County resident who commutes to Miami regularly, Dr. Hertelendy is also noticing a new trend in South Florida.

Not only are more people embracing the concept of wearing a face cover in public for protection, but they’re adding a fashionable twist when following CDC guidelines.

“In some degree it has been fashionable. We’ve seen some very interesting and clever masks being made, so I think you’re going to see this for a long time to come,” Dr. Hertelendy said.

Examples of compliant homemade facial coverings may be found on the CDC website: CDC Face Coverings.

Those who wear facial coverings should review the CDC and Florida Department of Health guidelines regarding safely applying, removing, and cleaning facial coverings.