PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. —
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people in three South Florida counties mask up while indoors.
Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties are now in the agency’s high-risk category for the spread of COVID-19.
That’s because of the steadily increasing positivity rate, case counts, and hospitalizations in those areas.
“If you go back six, seven weeks ago, we were down to only two COVID inpatients in Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Today, we’re 36,” Dr. Samer Fahmy, the chief medical officer at Boca Raton Regional Hospital said.
Fahmy said those numbers are nowhere near the peaks we saw during the omicron surge, but it’s still a cause for concern and action.
“Indoor masking is very appropriate,” Fahmy said.
The CDC moved six Florida counties, including Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade into its high-risk category for COVID-19 community spread.
The latest data from the agency shows Palm Beach County’s positivity rate is nearing 20% and hospitalizations have seen a 13% increase over the last seven days.
Fahmy said at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, about a quarter of patients were admitted for a different reason and tested positive while there.
“The numbers may seem more inflated in the hospital because of those asymptomatic people. But that said, those asymptomatic people are the most likely ones to spread it because they don’t know they have COVID,” Fahmy said.
That’s why he’s encouraging people to mask up, not just for their own health, but also for more vulnerable people in the community.
Some people agree with him.
“You know what, as long as I’m wearing my mask, I’m protecting myself. So, it’s all about protecting yourself. Because really, this virus is not a joke. And I’m seeing people dying from it,” Karin Vela-Maher, who works in Palm Beach Gardens and chooses to wear a mask indoors, said.
Others do not agree with the guidance for indoor mask-wearing.
“My perspective, I feel like if you are fully vaccinated you shouldn’t have to wear a mask indoors, no matter where it be,” Julie Martin, who lives in Riviera Beach and chooses not to wear a mask indoors, said.