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Mayor Keith A. James Delivers COVID-19 State of the City, Launches WPB COVID-19 Response Unit

Post Date:03/27/2020 5:26 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (March 27, 2020) --  West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James delivered the first of a new, regularly scheduled COVID-19 ‘State of the City’ address to update the public on the City’s response and relief efforts, which include recent policy adjustments and initiatives. Mayor James announced the launch of the COVID-19 Response Unit—the first of its kind in the State of Florida—in cooperation with the City Commission and the private sector.

During his remarks, Mayor James highlighted the devastating effects of COVID-19 on citizens, families and the local economy. He strongly urged the public to take precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We will likely be dealing with COVID-19 and its effects for some time,” said Mayor James. “In order to ‘flatten the curve’ to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, we all need to work together to practice social distancing. The actions that we all are taking today are difficult, but they will help save lives.”

Mayor James provided critical updates about his administration’s response to the crisis, which included the following:

  • The establishment of a COVID-19 Rental Eviction Protection Program to help eligible residents with temporary rental assistance to avoid displacement due to loss of income as a result of COVID-19.
  • The approval by Commissioners of a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Fund consisting of $259,000 to help small businesses with micro-loans of $10,000 or less.
  • Strategies to help make it easier for online ordering with local businesses and a marketing campaign to promote West Palm Beach businesses.

Mayor stated that the COVID-19 Response Unit expands the City’s resources during this emergency. The plan is a collaborative effort that is supported by his administration with guidance and oversight from West Palm Beach Fire (WPBFD) Chief Diana Matty and input from national crisis management experts. The unit is made up of groups with key focus areas. The unit takes models and best practices from other cities and looks ahead to what things will be needed.

Each group has a leader who will be supported by City staff and will include members from the private sector who have expertise and resources to help the City as part of a public-private partnership. The groups and their leaders are as follows:

  • Housing and Homeless Group, led by Commissioner Cory Neering. This group will focus on:
    • Programs to help those experiencing financial hardships to say in their home.
    • Shelter and support programs for the homeless and those who cannot go home due to quarantine issues.
  • Economic Support and Recovery Group, led by Commissioner Kelly Shoaf. This group will focus on:
    • Small business and job relief programs and services, and
    • Recovery strategies including regulatory and permitting issues.
  • The Seniors, Children and Families Group, led by Commissioner Joe Peduzzi. This group will focus on:
    • Coordination with local and state agencies, including our schools.
    • Resources, programming and safety and support strategies for our most vulnerable communities.
  • The Food, Water and Medicine Group, led by Commissioner-Elect Christy Fox. They will focus on:
    • Identifying sponsorship and relief programs, and
    • Coordination of services, programs and solutions to help those who need help now.
  • The Community Services and Volunteer Engagement Group, led by Commission President Christina Lambert. This group will focus on:
    • Neighborhood services, good neighbor programs, and consumer tips and strategies, and
    • Coordination of volunteer services and opportunities.
  • The Non-profits and Faith-Based Outreach Group, led by Former Mayor Jeri Muoio. This group will focus on:
    • Coordination with our non-profits and outreach, and
    • Supporting our faith-based communities and recovery strategies.

These groups will support the work already being done by our emergency management team to support the health and public safety of our community. The City of West Pam Beach emergency management team is led by WPBFD Chief Diana Matty, WPBFD Asst. Chief Brent Bloomfield, and West Palm Beach Police Department Chief Sarah Mooney.

Each of the groups will be scheduling a weekly community meeting online so that residents can get updates and provide input on issues that are important to them.

“I want to ask our residents to stay safe and stay close to home as much as possible,” Mayor stated. “We can each do our part in our neighborhoods and our city to make a difference. The day WILL come when we have the upper hand on COVID-19. There will be a life after COVID-19 in our City and Community. We will get through his together, no matter what it takes.”


To view Mayor’s COVID-19 State of the City, please visit:

For additional information about the City’s response to COVID-19, please visit our website: or contact the Mayor’s Response Hotline at (561) 822-2222 (TTY 800-955-8771).

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