Dr. Alonso: Vaccine Won’t Be Instant. Will Take Months, Starting With Nursing Homes. No Restriction Relaxing Until 80 Percent Vaccinated Or Infected.
Mayor Kerner: Mask Order Still In Effect, Compliance Team Remains On Patrol
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The rising COVID-19 numbers in Palm Beach County are making it difficult for health department contact tracers to do their work.
Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health for Palm Beach County, says “once the positivity goes above 10 we have widespread county (spread) of the virus. The ability to understand who spread it to you goes way down. That makes contact tracing less effective. We want to keep that down.”
She made the comments during a Friday afternoon news conference that included Palm Beach County officials.
Palm Beach County has hit — or passed — ten percent positivity at least twice in the past several days.
Dr. Alonso also said vaccines won’t be magic, instant cures. They will take months to distribute, starting with high risk individuals like nursing home patients and healthcare workers. Alonso said rules and restrictions will not be relaxed until April at the earliest — and that may be overly optimistic.
She said the target is for 80 percent of the population to be vaccinated — or infected — before restrictions can legitimately be scaled down.
“We know priority will be nursing homes, healthcare workers, and then first responders and other healthcare workers,” she said. “We are ready, we are planning, and we are continuing to get information from the State and the Feds about how it will be rolled out and handled. We (must remember) that we are not just producing vaccine for the United States, but for the whole world.”
Alonso said hospitals — so far — are in acceptable shape. Health officials become concerned when availability drops below 25 percent. ICU and general availability in Palm Beach County is holding in the 30 percent range.
Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner said he is concerned that the “good work” of the county could be mitigated by folks suffering from COVID fatigue.
“This is day 249 of our emergency response,” said Kerner. “There is definitely COVID-19 fatigue. We are entering a time period where people are excited about the holidays and want to be with their families. It’s easy to let our guard down.”
Kerner reiterated that the Palm Beach County Mask Mandate remains in effect. The COVID Education and Compliance team continues to patrol businesses, restaurants and other facilities and is still empowered to issue citations and fines.
You can reach the team to file an anonymous complaint at 561-24-COVID, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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