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West Palm Beach in 'early stages' of developing process of reopening city

'We are seeing a flattening of the curve,' emergency manager says
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James speaks at a news conference on April 17, 2020.
Posted at 10:19 AM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 19:12:38-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — During a Friday morning news conference, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James delivered some optimistic news regarding the city's fight against the coronavirus.

“We are in the very early stages of thinking about the process of reopening our city, and what that might look like … we have to look at our reopening not as a big splash, but rather as a gradual flow like the slow opening of a faucet,” James said Friday.

The mayor emphasized that it’s important to have an even stronger health care system and reliable tests readily available before the city fully opens.

“We need to make sure we’re having ample testing, so we know who is affected by this virus, so we can adjust accordingly and make sure appropriate people have been quarantined and isolated and not risk a spike once we do reopen,” said James.

Assistant Chief/Emergency Manager Brent Bloomfield said Friday that city has deployed a nursing home and assistant living facility task force to assess the needs of the city’s most vulnerable population. Bloomfield said this includes mobile coronavirus testing for those who do not have the ability to travel to testing sites.

“We are seeing a flattening of the curve. It is due to the diligence of our city, businesses and citizens,” said Bloomfield. “Washing your hands, social distancing and wearing masks is working.”

NEWS CONFERENCE: West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James, city officials hold coronavirus news conference (36 minutes)

James said the city continues to process applications for the city’s recovery and assistance program, which provides short-term loans of $5,000 to $10,000 to help small businesses.

“We are starting to cut checks to our local businesses to help support them. We have approved 15 business applications for loans totaling $139,000,” said James.

The city is also working to help residents through a rental eviction protection program so they can stay in their homes, which provides up to two months of rent due to a loss of income as a direct result of the coronavirus and downturn of the economy.

The city also launched a West Palm Beach Covid-19 toolbox, a centralized resource to offer information about testing, health and safety information, food distribution sites around the city, support for businesses, financial assistance programs and mental health options.

“The toolbox will be updated regularly as new programs in the city non-profit and private sectors become available,” said city commissioner Christina Lambert.

To access the toolbox, visit