Here is a list of frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and how it impacts us in West Palm Beach.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced a 30-day ‘Stay at Home’ order for the State of Florida that supersedes any prior orders. The order tells residents to stay indoors unless they are pursuing “essential services or activities.”
According to the order:
Seniors and people with significant underlying medical conditions “shall stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk for exposure to COVID-19.”
All people “shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.”
For the purposes of the Governor’s order, the list of essential services can be found on the Department of Homeland Security web page at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce.
The order is effective as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020 and ends April 30.
Residents are directed to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in certain “essential activities.”
On those occasions when you are out of your home for necessary tasks, stay at least six feet away from others.
YOU CAN …
- Go to the grocery store.
- Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities.
- Go to medical appointments (check with your doctor or provider first).
- Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru.
- Care or support a friend or family member.
- Take a walk, ride your bike, jog and be in nature for exercise — just keep at least six feet between you and others in the community.
- Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian, if necessary.
- Help someone to get necessary supplies.
YOU SHOULD NOT …
- Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by this Order.
- Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need.
- Maintain less than six feet of distance from others when you go out, if possible.
- Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility.
- Go to the beach, play group sports, or engage in outdoor activities in groups of 10 or more.
To protect the health and safety of our employees and the people we serve, effective Monday, April 6, Mayor James has ordered City Hall closed to the public and to be open for appointment-only visits until further notice.
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James has signed an executive order suspending some provisions contained in the City of West Palm Beach Charter that govern public meetings. Mayor James mandated that all meetings and hearings conducted by the City of West Palm Beach, its staff, and any of its Boards and Committees may use communications media technology, such as telephonic and video conferencing, as provided in section 120.54 (b)(b)2., Florida Statutes. View the order here.
To promote social distancing in the City of West Palm Beach, the City is turning to Zoom technology to host public meetings, including the April 6, 2020 CRA meeting at 4:00 p.m. and the City Commission meeting at 5:00 p.m. Zoom is a cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. To ensure that the public can view the virtual meeting, the meetings will also be broadcast through all the usual channels and avenues that are provided when a City Commission meeting is regularly held in the Commission Chambers at City Hall. The meetings can be viewed live on:
- WPB-TV (Comcast Channel 18)
- WPB.org Livestream Page
- Facebook at: www.facebook.com/CityofWPB/
- YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8I5opEq1KM8XVH3Rervmkw
Public comments can be submitted via the following options and must not exceed 3 minutes:
- Call and leave a message with your comments at (561) 320-2679.
- Please state your name and indicate if it is a general comment or for a specific agenda item number.
- Send your written or video comments to email@example.com.
- Please include your name and indicate if it is a general comment or for a specific agenda item number.
- Submit your comments on our website here.
City of West Palm Beach Parks facilities partially reopened on May 5, 2020.
Some City facilities and services have experienced closures or shortened hours due to the emergence of COVID-19. Additionally, many events planned for West Palm Beach are privately organized and managed. All City of West Palm Beach permits for events have been suspended until further notice. For more information, please visit your specific event's Website for further information.
Here is a current list of changes for the City of West Palm Beach:
- City-produced events:
After-school programs: The City of West Palm Beach is suspending its after-school programs at the library and at recreational centers effective Monday, March 16, 2020 till further notice.
Clematis by Night – CANCELED
Mandel Public Library’s programs, workshops, and meetings are cancelled till further notice.
Screen on the Green – CANCELED
West Palm Beach GreenMarket – CANCELED
- Building inspections: For Development Services’ contact information, please visit: https://www.wpb.org/government/development-services.
- Vickers House: While the Vickers House is now closed, individuals needing assistance can still email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with an HCD representative.
- On-street mental health services for homeless: Mental Health America on-street services to the City’s homeless population are suspended until further notice. In addition, the City’s homeless engagement team, provided by the Lord’s Place, will provide virtual services until further notice. To reach the Lord’s Place community outreach department, call (561) 234-6752 or email email@example.com.
- Grassy Waters Preserve Nature Center: Access to Hog Hammock Trail, Eagle Trail, Apoxee Trail and Owahee trail is open. All other sections of the center remain closed. More information and directions.
- Library: The Mandel Public Library will remain closed until further notice. No materials will be due at this time. Please take advantage of our online e-books, movies, music & more. Call 561-868-7701 (TTY: 800-955-8771) for more information. We know that many of you who use our library services may have some questions. Below is a list of services still available to you:
If you are interested in using our library services virtually, the library has a wide variety of digital offerings for library cardholders. These offerings include e-books and audiobooks, streaming TV and movies, music downloads, databases and more. Visit this page for more information on how to Connect 24/7 to the library.
Materials currently checked-out
If you have an item that is currently checked out, you will have a new due date of June 1, 2020.
Get a free library card
Those who don’t have a library card may apply for one by visiting this page or calling (561) 868-7701 (TTY: 800-955-8771). This card will provide immediate access to the library’s digital content for a year. Your new card will be mailed to you. Once the library is back open, use your card to check out books at the library!
Materials on hold
You will not be able to place holds on physical materials at this time. Holds currently in the system will be honored once we resume normal operations.
Get in touch
If you need to update your library card, get a card, get help downloading movies or books, ask a question or want to learn about our online resources, call (561) 868-7701 or (TTY: 800-955-8771). You may also email MPL@wpbcitylibrary.org, and we will get back to you within 24 hours. We will continue to update you on any changes in our operations as warranted and encourage you to visit the City of West Palm Beach web page https://www.wpb.org/ for related COVID-19 updates.
On Friday, March 27, Mayor Keith A. James announced the launch of theWest Palm Beach COVID-19 Response Unit. This unit expands the work already being done by the City’s emergency management team to support the health and public safety of our community.
This response unit will be integrated into our emergency plan to focus on priorities and needs of our residents now or in the future, beyond health and public safety. Current City Commissioners, Commissioner-elect Christy Fox, and former Mayor Jeri Muoio will help work on this new plan. They have agreed and together we are working as one city, one team, and with one mission.
The COVID-19 Response Unit will focus on six key areas: Housing & Homeless; Economic Support & Recovery; Seniors, Children & Families; Food, Water & Medicine; Community Services & Volunteer Engagement; and Non-Profits & Faith-Based Outreach.
Each group will be supported by City staff and will include members in the private sector who have expertise and resources to help us as part of this public-private partnership. The focus of the COVID-19 Response Unit is to make sure we are looking at the services, polices, best practices, and resources needed to respond to community needs today, and prepare our city for the recovery in the future.
The City of West Palm Beach continues to safely provide essential utility services while limiting employee-to-employee and customer service contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Most City services are fully operational and will continue to be operational to serve our community. Access to utility accounts, requests for services, billing, and payment activities are available online or by calling our customer service department.
The City of West Palm Beach is not closing, and we are committed to maintaining the same reliable and critical services that our residents deserve and expect. Our first responders are reporting for duty, our garbage collection crews are operating on schedule, and the water department is producing clean and safe drinking water for all customers.
For questions about your account or payment options, speak to a Customer Service Representative at (561) 822-1300 (TTY: 800-955-8771) between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Stormwater billing questions call (561) 822-1303 (TTY: 800-955-8771) .
- Backflow Prevention and/or Cross Connections questions call the Backflow Hotline at (561) 822-2244 (TTY: 800-955-8771) between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- 24-Hour Dispatch Service for after-hours or emergencies call (561) 822-2210 (TTY: 800-955-8771) .
For more information about City services available online, please visit Online City Services.
For your safety and convenience, payments or requests for West Palm Beach Public Utilities services are available without the need to visit City Hall. The following bill pay services are available for your safety and convenience:
- Online Payments: Online payments are quick and easy. You will first need to create an online profile and log in. From the City’s home page, under “I WANT TO,” choose Pay my utility bill. Create an online profile and pay your bill. Instructions are provided in English and Spanish.
- Pay by Phone: You can pay your utility bill over the telephone by calling a Customer Service Representative at (561) 822-1300 (TTY 800-955-8771). You will be required to have your utility account number.
- Pay by Mail: Please mail by post to: City of West Palm Beach, P.O. Box 30000, Tampa, FL 33630-3000.
- Automatic Bank Draft: For information, please visit: https://www.wpb.org/government/public-utilities/billing-payments/billing-forms.
- Pay at Drop Box: You may make your payments at the 24/7 drop box located on the north side of City Hall on Banyan Boulevard.
For additional questions about your account or payment options, please speak to a Customer Service Representative at (561) 822-1300 (TTY 800-955-8771) between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The new Paycheck Protection Program provides assistance to employers to maintain their payroll and expenses during this public health emergency. These will be available retroactively from Feb. 15, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
Beginning on April 3rd, businesses can go to a participating SBA 7(a) lender, bank, or credit union, apply for a loan, and be approved on the same day. These loans feature eight weeks fully forgivable funds to cover payroll, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest. Download the application here.
Small businesses are also eligible to apply online for immediate relief through Economic Injury Disaster Loans for an advance of up to $10,000 within three days, and Emergency Bridge Loans to help bridge the short-term gap in resources available. Subscribe to SBA emails for updates on available webinars and other resources and click here for more information on other resources available to small businesses.
Due to the hardships many are facing due to recent impacts of COVID-19, Mayor Keith A. James and the City’s Housing and Community Development department have established the COVID-19 Rental Eviction Protection Program to be administered by the City’s HCD department.
The COVID-19 Rental Eviction Protection Program was created to assist eligible City of West Palm Beach households with temporary rental assistance to avoid displacement due to a loss of income as a direct result of COVID-19. The assistance is limited to a one-time payment equal to a maximum of 2 months’ rent.
Applicants must be able to evidence loss of income due to COVID-19 and have no other available resources. They must not have utilized any other services for the timeframe of payment request.
For additional information, please visit the City's Housing and Community Development Department or call (561) 822-1250.
West Palm Beach has established the Serving Our Seniors (SOS) program to provide financial relief from high-energy costs to prevent service disconnection for seniors 62 and older in crisis. The assistance is limited to a one-time payment not to exceed $600. Applicants must not have any other resources available. For more information, please call the HCD at (561) 804-4970.
West Palm Beach hospitality workers who have been laid-off due to COVID-19 mitigation are encouraged to claim their free, freshly prepared meal on behalf of Hospitality Helping Hands. Families can wait in their vehicles as volunteers process their requests, all while following social distancing guidelines. Additionally, Hospitality Helping Hands is delivering meals to low income seniors who are confined to their homes. Meal distribution is held daily from 1pm-6pm at Howley’s Restaurant: 4700 S. Dixie Highway. A second distribution site has been established at Hullabaloo: 517 Clematis St.
The City Commission recently approved an additional $18,000 for a COVID-19 Emergency Food Assistance program to benefit hospitality workers who have been impacted by the pandemic. These funds, combined with the $12,000 the City had previously approved and another $20,000 on behalf of the Downtown Development Authority, bring the total contribution to Hospitality Helping Hands, a local non-profit, to $50,000.
Mayor Keith A. James has also announced a challenge to the private sector to match or surpass these funds for Hospitality Helping Hands and other entities actively engaged in COVID-19 relief efforts. Details about this effort will be announced shortly.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can spread from person to person and is caused by a novel coronavirus. Its symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath — and may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Find more resources and information at the CDC’s website.
According to the CDC, the effects of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe symptoms of respiratory illness, including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to COVID-19.
You can learn more about coronavirus symptoms on the CDC’s website.
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person.
Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
The CDC has released the following recommendations to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay away from individuals who are sick, and if you do become sick, stay home and seek medical care.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away immediately.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
The City of West Palm Beach is also advocating for everyone in our community to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible.
Avoid contact with others, and if you are experiencing symptoms call your doctor before visiting a hospital, emergency room, or medical office.
If you need to call 9-1-1, inform the dispatcher about your symptoms, and cover your mouth and nose with a mask if possible when interacting with first responders.
For more information on how you can protect yourself from coronavirus, visit the CDC's website.
Elderly residents and those with pre-existing health conditions are at the highest risk of developing severe symptoms. However, anyone can contract coronavirus and spread it to others, even without symptoms. All individuals should take extra precautions to wash their hands, stay away from sick people, and seek medical attention if they become ill. All residents, regardless of age or medical history, should follow the CDC’s recommendations for preventing the spread of coronavirus to protect themselves and the most vulnerable members of our community.
Stay Informed. The CDC is updating its website daily with the latest information and advice for the public. (www.cdc.gov/ncov).
Remember to Take Everyday Preventive Actions that are always recommended to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Social distancing, or physical distancing, is a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other.
- Stay home: Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
- Call 1-866-779-6121 to speak with a representative of the Florida Department of Health. They will ask you questions about your health and determine if you should be tested. They will give you further instructions.
- Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
Several testing sites have been set up in Palm Beach County. As of April 16, all testing visits are by appointment only. For the latest information, please visit our testing information page.
West Palm Beach has launched a COVID-19 Response Unit to help our city with the long-term recovery and relief efforts associated with the COVID-19 epidemic. As part of this effort, volunteers to assist our most vulnerable residents are needed. If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out this form and someone will get in contact with you.