By Mary Hladky
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Boca Raton jumped to 103 on March 31, cementing the fact that the county’s southernmost city is so far seeing a higher rate of infection than other cities.
But Boca Raton’s coronavirus status is not surprising, since the city sits immediately north of Broward County, which initially was the most severely impacted county in Florida. Miami-Dade County has since surpassed Broward in the number of confirmed cases.
While the number of Palm Beach County cases has risen to 551, the number is well below Broward’s 1,219 and Miami-Dade’s 2,123, according to data posted by the state at 5 p.m.
But Palm Beach County leads the state in deaths, with 14 reported. Broward had 12 deaths and Miami-Dade had 7.
Based on confirmed case numbers, Gov. Ron DeSantis noted on March 30 that Palm Beach County is faring better so far as the first drive-thru testing facility in Palm Beach County was about to open at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
“Broward and Dade are by far and away the top,” he said. “Palm Beach County is a distant third.”
Even so, the three counties are considered the epicenter of the disease in the state.
DeSantis said the number of cases in the county would increase now that testing facilities are opening that can detect infection. Broward and Miami-Dade have had such facilities for more than a week.
Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer has urged residents for weeks to stay home and take all precautions, including frequent hand washing and practicing social distancing if it is absolutely essential to leave the house.
“There will be more cases here,” he told residents in a March 24 Facebook Live broadcast.
The city codified Singer’s advice by issuing a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” emergency order effective March 28.
The list of actions taken by the city to safeguard residents include declaring a local state of emergency on March 17 that closed bars and nightclubs and limited restaurants to offering food take-away and delivery, closing all city facilities, parks and beaches on March 18, and ordering the closing of non-essential retail and commercial businesses effective March 25.
Elsewhere in south Palm Beach County, Delray Beach had 72 cases as of 5 p.m. on March 31, up from 59 totaled just seven hours earlier. Boca Raton’s morning count was 98.
Two cases were reported in Hypoluxo, and South Palm Beach had one, both the same as in the morning.
West Palm Beach, the county’s largest city, had 82 cases up from 78 in the morning.
Florida had a total of 6,741 cases, and 85 deaths as of 5 p.m. That was up from 6,338 in the morning.