Palm Beach County leaders announced Friday that $1.5 million worth of face masks will be mailed to every home in the county, as cases and infection rates continue to surge.
The masks will be sent to each of the 660,000 homes in the county, according to Mayor Dave Kerner. The announcement comes on the heels of a mask mandate, passed on Tuesday, that requires Palm Beach County residents to wear a facial covering in most public places.
At a news conference Friday, county leaders stressed that coronavirus numbers are trending in the wrong direction, warning that most new cases are in the 18 to 35-year-old demographic.
“What’s saving us right now and the fact that the death rates are down is that those 25 and 40-year-olds don’t need to be hospitalized,” said Dr. Alina Alonso, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.
She went on to warn that younger people could spread the virus to older and more vulnerable populations, which could lead to an overwhelming surge in patients at local hospitals.
Dr. Alonso added the new spike is not due to increased testing, but instead more people catching the virus and a higher rate of transmission from person to person.
“That tells me that it’s not just more testing,” she said.
The county will soon create public service announcements, planned to air on TV and radio, as well as social media apps like Facebook and TikTok. The goal is to educate people, both young and old, about the virus’ alarming rise and to encourage mask wearing and social distancing.
“A majority of my friends are like, ‘I don’t care if I get it. Let me get it. Let’s get this over and done with,'” said Tori Alliji, a local college student.
Alliji called on young people to set an example for one another, saying that is the most likely way that COVID-19 responsibility will take hold.
“We need to not be afraid to to stand up and post on Facebook and post on social media and wear that mask with almost pride,” she said.
Mayor Kerner issues a similar call to arms, reminding citizens that wearing a mask and social distancing doesn’t just help protect vulnerable populations, but first responders who have to deal with the public every day.
“If you back the blue and you have their back and you support firefighters, then obey the law and step up and help be a leader in your community,” Kerner said. “That’s what I would say to that age group.”