Palm Beach County reopened without meeting federal guidelines, investigation shows

Palm Beach County hadn’t met all the federal guidelines for reopening when it ended its coronavirus lockdown, a South Florida Sun Sentinel analysis has found.

In the two weeks preceding the decision, coronavirus infections and the percentage of people testing positive in the county had not declined, and now some numbers are trending upward.

Most other large Florida counties, including Broward and Miami-Dade, have shown the general declining trends in new cases and infection rates that federal guidelines recommend. Palm Beach County has not — yet it was the first in South Florida to push to reopen.

The county commission voted 5-1 on May 5 to ask Gov. Ron DeSantis to lift restrictions designed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus anyway, and he approved. On Monday, restaurants, salons, and malls flung open their doors, albeit at 25% percent capacity.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal R. Valeche said commissioners were aware that the county did not meet the federal criteria. He said he prefers to look at hospital capacity rather than new infections as a measure of the outbreak’s severity, since sometimes test results can take days to process.

Source: Sun Sentinel