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Palm Beach County Commissioner's Daughter Hospitalized With COVID-19

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Commissioner Melissa at a September 15 commission meeting

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay announced Tuesday that her 19-year-old daughter tested positive for COVID-19. McKinlay’s daughter, a University of Central Florida student, is hospitalized in Orlando.

Speaking at a commission meeting, McKinlay says her daughter sent her a text message at 2 a.m, saying she had “excruciating shooting leg pains.” McKinlay says she didn’t know if her daughter was "dehydrated" or if it was "blood clots and the virus is attacking her musculoskeletal system.”

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McKinlay gave a warning to people in the community who deny the seriousness of the virus and say herd immunity will benefit young people right now.

“I don't want to hear anything about underground media reports. Or anything from quack denier doctors that this is a virus that should not be taken seriously,” McKinlay said. “Because I’m here to tell you it absolutely is a virus that should be taken seriously. You don’t know how it’s going to attack your system.”

She also spoke about the economic hardships that the virus has placed on the community, saying she has two healthy kids in the restaurant industry who have been financially impacted by the virus. She warned the public about a hasty reopening without proper mitigation efforts to contain the pandemic — especially as her daughter continues to recover in Orlando.

“I can’t be with her in the hospital. And when she texts me that she’s scared — I don’t want any other mother to ever have to get that text message and feel the way that I feel right now.”

The county's health director Dr.Alina Alonso said the 15-24 age group saw a 33% percent jump in new cases. Alonso points the finger at parties and other large, close-knit gatherings.

She says large gatherings on university campuses, and outside of them, along with the upcoming in-school instructions in the district, will make containing the virus difficult — especially as Florida enters flu season.

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WLRN Screenshot
Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County COVID Age Distribution of New Cases vs New Deaths_09152020

“This is going to be very difficult right now. For the next 4 to 6 weeks, we’re gonna have to take a look and see how those numbers go,” Alonso said. “Is it having an effect? Are we being able to mitigate this as well as possible?”

As part of the county’s phase two reopening plans, Alonso said her office has set up mitigation protocols like contact tracers and seating charts ahead of in-person school instruction that is set to begin next week.