PBC Commissioner Robert Weinroth Provides County Update
Governor expands vaccine eligibility
Governor Ron DeSantis recently expanded the groups eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida. Eligible residents now include:
- Long-term care facility residents and staff;
- Persons 65 years of age and older;
- Health care personnel with direct patient contact;
- K-12 school employees and child care workers (any age);
- Sworn law enforcement officers 50 years of age and older;
- Firefighters 50 years of age and older; and
- Persons deemed extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 as determined by a physician who provides an attestation that the patient meets the defined eligibility criteria outlined in the Department of Health form.
- Persons 60 years and older (effective Monday Mar 15)
Vaccine locations in Palm Beach County and surrounding area
- Publix’s portal for scheduling appointments is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7AM.
- CVS pharmacies: Currently, the only location in Palm Beach County is in Belle Glade. Visit their website to book an appointment and/or other locations.
- Winn Dixie Vaccine Information Page
- Walgreens Vaccination Information Page
- Wal-Mart Vaccine Information Page
- Federally Supported Vaccine Sites (Miami location available)
- The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) or call 866.201.6754 if you don’t have internet access.
- Health Care District of Palm Beach County or call 561.804.4115. Once you sign up, you will be placed in a virtual waiting room for scheduling on a first-come, first-serve basis.
All individuals who submitted an appointment request to the Health Care District prior to March 1 but were not contacted for an appointment can submit a new appointment request and check “Yes” in the box indicating they were on the waitlist. they will verify and prioritize accordingly.
The following three vaccination sites are being operated by the Health Care District. These sites require appointments (see links above). No walk-ins permitted.
- South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach
- Burns Road Community Center in Palm Beach Gardens
- South County Civic Center in Delray Beach
For more information on COVID-19 including testing sites, click here.
The West Palm Beach VA Medical Center is now offering vaccines for all eligible veterans of all ages who receive care at the VA. The vaccine is offered by appointment and on a walk-in basis at Building 14 on the main campus in West Palm Beach from 10AM to 3PM Monday – Friday. For more information, call 561.422.5200.
American Rescue Plan
After weeks of negotiation, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) which provides $1.9 trillion of additional relief in response to the pandemic, received its final approval by President Biden.
After preliminary analysis by county staff, it is anticipated the county will receive approximately $290 million. Local allocations will include small businesses, nonprofits, and other industries negatively impacted by the pandemic. Additionally, assistance will be provided for food relief, testing, vaccinations, broadband infrastructure and other related areas negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Preliminary analysis also indicates ARP funds will be used to address revenue-related government services such as water and sewer. Moreover, ARP will provide larger cities with direct allocations.
Florida will receive $10.232 billion, metro cities in Florida will receive $1.465 billion and other non-county jurisdictions will receive $1.397 billion.
Counties in Florida will receive about $4.165 billion.
In total, Florida will receive around $17.6 billion.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Palm Beach County: $290 million
- Martin County: $31 million
- St. Lucie County: $64 million
- Boca Raton: $11.22 million
- Boynton Beach $14.91 million
- Delray Beach $13.24 million
- Fort Pierce: $15.05 million
- Jupiter: $7.58 million
- Palm Beach Gardens $5.92 million
- Wellington: $7.26 million
- West Palm Beach: $25.30 million
Emergency Rental/Utility Assistance
The Palm Beach County Community Services Department has its online portal open for Emergency Rental Assistance.
Eligible Palm Beach County residents must be a renter household in which at least one or more individuals meets all of the following criteria:
- qualifies for unemployment or experienced a reduction of household income;
- incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardships due to COVID-19;
- demonstrates a risk of homelessness or housing instability; and
- has a household income at or below 80% of the area median.
All applicants must present the following documentation in order to apply for services:
Applications will be through the County online portal. Applicants must submit the correct information along with all required documentation to expedite approval. Applications will be prioritized for clients who are below 30% /50% AMI, facing evictions and currently unemployed for more than 90 days.
Eligible residents may apply for emergency rental assistance at RentalAssistancePBC.org or PBCGov.org/OSCARSS.For more information, contact the Community Services Department’s Contact Center at 561.355.4792.
Bike and Pedestrian Safety Initiatives
Alarmed by an increase in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities on Palm Beach County roads, I am calling for stronger safety initiatives.
There’s a lot that needs to be done to make our roads safer for our community. Our county has committed to “Vision Zero” which strives to eliminate the deaths on our roadways.
Eleven bicyclists died in the county in 2020, more than double the number of bicycle fatalities recorded in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Pedestrian fatalities also rose last year, with 41 deaths compared to 40 in 2019. As co-chair to the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency Governing Board, I will be making bike and pedestrian safety a priority. Our residents should not be taking their lives in their hands when they venture out on foot or by bicycle.
March is Florida Bicycle Month! Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation offer a wide array of bike paths at parks countywide. For more information, visit the website.
Biking in our parks is a great way to see some of the spectacular park settings while enjoying the outdoors.
Joint Mission to Secure Local Waters
Representing over 22 miles of coastline, I am pleased to report the county has obtained a grant to assist in securing the international water borders countywide.
A Homeland Security Grant of $352,000 will be used to enhance the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) mission to secure the coastline. Specifically, the grant funds will pay for overtime to reinforce our presence within local communities along the coast to implement highway interdiction and crime suppression operations to intercept those who have illegally crossed our borders.
The waters off our shoreline are notorious for illegal activities, and these patrols are effective and necessary.
The grant will aid the USBP’s ability to work with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and other law local enforcement agencies in this joint mission in securing the county’s borders.
Local Tourism Hit Hard by Pandemic
The county’s third largest industry, tourism, has been hard hit by the pandemic. Recent reports show bed-tax collections driven by the number of people staying in hotels and the amount hotels charge fell 20 percent. In 2019, bed-tax collections went from a record high of $54 million to $43 million in 2020.
Tourism officials are estimating $28 million in bed-tax collections in 2021. They are also predicting that bed taxes and visitation levels won’t return to re-pandemic levels until 2022 or 2023.
Bed-tax dollars are used for tourism-related projects from beach renourishment to marketing strategies such as television and print ads.
While traditional hotel sales were down, the pandemic drew out a trend that could be the future of the county’s tourism. Nonhotel sales, like home and condo rentals, grew by 8 percent.
Tourism’s overall economic impact in Palm Beach County is estimated to be under $6 billion, more than $1.6 billion less than 2019.
CareerSource Palm Beach County has announced they have over 1,000 area jobs available and over 100 in the South County area.
To browse available jobs, go to EmployFlorida.com.
For information on job fairs, classes and job search assistance, visit CareerSourcepbc.com or call 561.340.1060.