The town recorded its 600th case of coronavirus this week, a milestone that Assistant Town Manager Jay Boodheshwar called “sobering.”
In its weekly COVID-19 update released Wednesday, the town shared data provided by the Florida Department of Health, noting an increase of 17 positive cases from the previous week — a 2.9% jump.
That percentage is nearly a point higher than the county rate of 2.1% and a full point higher than the state rate of 1.9% over the same time period.
Yet, Boodheshwar said, those numbers can be misleading in the context of just percentages.
He noted that new infections statewide grew by 34,476 during the previous week, while the county added 2,756 cases.
As more people have gotten vaccinated, Boodheshwar said, the week-over-week increase in new infections has been diminishing.
Still, he warned, people need to be cautious.
Thirteen Palm Beach residents have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began 13 months ago.
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic,” he said. “We cannot let our guard down.”
Town officials said they will continue to monitor trends and participate in weekly informational and coordination meetings at the county and state levels.
If case numbers and positivity rates rise, the town will work with its state and county partners to support mitigation efforts, Boodheshwar said.
Town urged to follow COVID-19 protocols
In the meantime, the town continues to urge residents and business owners to follow established COVID-19 protocols.
Those include wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene, and getting vaccinated.
The town was among the first in the county to distribute vaccines to its residents, hosting a first round of inoculations in early January.
“The emergence of variants complicate things,” Boodheshwar said. “We continue to urge everyone, residents and businesses alike, to follow CDC guidelines — get vaccinated, wear masks, practice social distancing, practice good hygiene, and enjoy the outdoors.”
The town remains under a continuing State of Emergency declared by the county, as well as a county-issued emergency order that requires facial coverings in all businesses, establishments, and public spaces.
Late last year, the Town Council instituted a 1 a.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The curfew was extended in January, February and March, and will be revisited at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.
Meanwhile, the town’s beaches, recreational facilities, Town Hall and additional offices remain open, while Palm Beach Police, Fire Rescue, and Sanitation operations continue as normal.
The town recommends making telephone or virtual appointments when meeting with its staff.