Palm Beach County declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, citing a surge of COVID-19 cases and a shortage of medical resources.
The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners voted 7-0 in favor of the local state of emergency. The motion, proposed by Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, comes as the 12-bed intensive care unit at Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade reached capacity following a flood of COVID-19 patients. McKinlay said today that the hospital had no more room for critical patients, with the shortage forcing the hospital to transfer emergency room patients to medical centers in Miami and Orlando.
“We do not have the resources available right now in our community to address the needs in certain parts of our community,” McKinlay said during Tuesday’s county commission meeting.
The motion came as commissioners received a briefing from health officials who highlighted the county’s growing cases and shortage of hospital resources. During the presentation, Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso shed light on the county’s influx of cases — a total of 9,159 new cases between Aug. 6 and 12 — while signaling that Palm Beach’s percent positive rate of 19.4 was higher than the state’s (18.5 percent).
“We have over 1,000 cases per day,” Alonso said. “That means that there is very, very wide community spread and that people are getting sick and people are being hospitalized.”
Alonso also noted that it may be difficult for the county to get additional medical personnel because the current surge of COVID-19 cases is happening on a national level.
“It’s happening everywhere at the same time,” Alonso added. “And the fact that it’s happening all over the state, all over the country, it’s difficult to get resources from other places.”
Officials say they hope the state of emergency will enable Palm Beach County to bring in additional medical workers and resources from other parts of the state. The emergency order would also allow officials to gain better insight from hospitals on cases and capacity.
Motion passed unanimously.
Thank you to my colleagues for supporting. And thank you to local reporters whose coverage helped put this issue in the spotlight. @CBS12 @WPTV @WPBF25News @pbpost @WLRN @Telemundo51 @AP & especially @jayobtv https://t.co/sWSIon7O5N
— Melissa McKinlay (@VoteMcKinlay) August 17, 2021