Good residents of Lake Worth Beach, I come before you today in the midst of one of our generation’s Greatest Tests. I do not ask you to man a castle or to charge into battle but to close your door, sit on your couch, and be patient. By now you are assuredly aware of the seriousness of the situation.. Like every city, state, and country around the world, COVID19 is a very real and immediate threat to our City, and our very way of life. There are no quick and simple answers and it is easy to let fear fill the void of the unknown. Yet there are things I do know:
- First, I know we can face this. My staff are leaders in their fields and they are doing their jobs admirably.
- Second, this will not be a quick crisis, but through this time we will become closer as a community to help each other.
- And finally as a community we are resilient and we are prepared.
Every day my team and I are in regular contact with county, state, and federal partners ensuring we stay informed and share best practices. A month ago our country began ramping up its response to the Covid 19 Pandemic. While government at all levels had emergency management structures in place, responding to this pandemic has required public servants at every level of government to work around the clock to develop a response. My team has faced an overwhelming number of decisions with a multitude of unforeseeable consequences. Each decision has been guided by our core mission as a City, to improve people’s lives for the better!
In any emergency there are disagreements on whether we are doing too much, too little, moving too fast or moving too slow. Regardless, I can promise you that no decision is made lightly and our team does not shy away from thinking outside of the box to limit any negative consequences from a decision whether it is made at our City level or above.
At this time Palm Beach County is beginning to test specific population groups for the virus and is leading the local effort to provide time for the necessary medical infrastructure to be implemented. This action has involved the closing of all non-critical businesses, local parks, golf courses and beaches. It also includes the Stay at Home, Stay Safe orders to encourage you to stay home.
Our State government is working to ensure supply chains remain open and that we receive the assistance we require. The Federal government is developing an economic recovery package while also repurposing many of our national manufacturing facilities to produce the necessary medical equipment to fight this virus.
For our part we all must work to flatten the curve, by following the advice of experts and social distancing we can all slow the spread of the virus long enough that the medical facilities can avoid being overrun like has happened elsewhere in the world. This is not easy, as it requires us all to limit many of the activities we would normally rely on to get us through a crisis. We must isolate ourselves, rather than coming together. We must look out our windows at a world that looks very much normal and trust that there is an unseen threat. And most of all we must take immediate and definitive action, by resisting the urge to take action and instead staying in, staying isolated, and keeping calm.
In any emergency, the life safety and welfare of our citizens are always our top priority. The safety of you, your family, and your home are the responsibility of our fine men and women at PBSO District 14. Sheriff Bradshaw as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the County is providing direction and resources. This is not just for Lake Worth Beach’s response but we are an integral part of the entire County response. A warning to anyone taking advantage of the current circumstances and committing crime – you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Our partners at Palm Beach County Fire Rescue work day and night in Lake Worth Beach, providing Emergency Medical services and fire protection. Like the Sheriff’s office, we benefit from their Countywide perspective and the tremendous amount of resources to confront any issue. As a citizen in Lake Worth Beach you have access to the very best emergency medical services and the dedicated men and women in our Fire Stations stand ready.
Our electric utility and water utility are ensuring everyone’s power stays on, the water is clean, safe and keeps flowing, and our sewer continues to flow. On that last note I must remind you to help keep the sewer flowing by not flushing your disinfectant wipes. Our public works team has been working around the clock to keep the streets clean and ensure that everyone’s garbage and recycling is collected. Please continue to place out your garbage and recycling according to your regular schedule. Our leisure services team is providing online storytime, and online recreation and wellness sessions to keep everyone healthy and happy during isolation In collaboration with all the City departments we have digitized as many City functions as possible. Lake Worth Beach has now made it possible to submit a building permit, schedule an inspection, and have the inspection entirely online. We were the first City to implement new measures to make Commission Meetings fully virtual and still provide the ability for residents to have their say through public comment. Our website is not only one of the most up-to-date information sources in the County but many of our recent developments are being shared with other cities to help them provide a new normal for their residents in the time of COVID19.
The City team recognizes and are sensitive to the hard truth that many of our residents will face economic difficulty even after the pandemic has passed. Through mutual collaboration and inclusion of City Staff and the Business Community, we are actively devising an economic recovery response that will allow us all to regain our footing, restart the local economy, and put people back to work. City staff are working around the clock to respond to the regular changes that have an effect on our business community. When Governor DeSantis closed restaurants to limit customer interactions for the sake of social distancing, Lake Worth Beach redesigned parking to provide all restaurants the opportunity to stay open and offer pick-up as an option. When our beach was ordered closed we secured an exemption to allow the restaurants at the beach to continue serving their delivery and curbside pickup customers. Our webmaster has developed an interactive online database which will be populated with the information of local businesses so that together we can easily find and support those businesses to help them weather this difficult time. Finally leading by example we have reached out to our local landlords and asked them to join us in developing a responsible and compassionate plan to allow flexibility for commercial tenants at this time.
Our residents have put their famous Lake Worth Beach creativity to use to help face the crisis. Last week residents in College Park made national news when they organized a toy animal safari through their neighborhood for children to visit in their cars. Other residents have turned to the internet to provide online painting, cooking, craft and fitness classes online. Others are fundraising to help with food and the needs of our less fortunate residents. The Little Free Library volunteers have ensured that each of our over 100 Little Free Libraries are well stocked for those who wish to find a new literary adventure at this time.
I want to thank the members of your commission who have been utilizing their special skillsets to help reach and support residents. Last week the Vice Mayor Pro Tem Scott Maxwell canvassed the City to ensure that all residents received vital information about COVID19 in their native language, whether that is English, Spanish, or Creole. This week Vice Mayor Amoroso will be helping coordinate food distribution in conjunction with the CRA. Commissioner Hardy has also been volunteering with food distribution and the needs of the less fortunate of the community. Commissioner Robinson is helping locate and assist Seniors throughout the City to make sure they are getting food and any assistance that they need. Along with the day-to-day coordination with the City staff I have been working with our business community to make sure we find ways to keep them in business and their staff employed. The Commission cares about Lake Worth Beach and we know that together we are stronger and better able to meet this challenge.
We are a diverse community and we come from many different walks of life. In a crisis we come together as friends, families and neighbors. We have faced hurricanes, economic disasters, and even zombies, and we have always recovered and came back even stronger. Even if we cannot get together for a beach bonfire or a Floffing tournament our physically staying away from each other right now is truly the way we can be there for each other. I know that together we will face whatever happens and the strength of our community will not fail us. Thank you, stay safe, stay home, and wash your hands!