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Palatka mayor: 42 COVID cases came from single gathering, city implements mandatory masks requirements

Putnam County currently has 487 COVID-19 cases, an increase from 182 in May.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill says the numbers tell an unfortunate story and right now, the number of COVID-19 cases in the city and Putnam County are climbing.

“In May, we were holding steady at Mother’s Day at 102 cases,” he told First Coast News.

Now, the county has 487 cases. Palatka reported its highest daily count ever earlier this week with 42.

Hill says a single gathering is to blame for those 42 positive cases.

“Kind of like a birthday party or celebration of that type for a teenager. It just ended up with a lot of individuals that tested positive in one day,” Hill said.

Hill says there are about 20 hospital beds open right now with the ICU at capacity.

The city implemented mandatory mask-wearing earlier this week, Hill says, to flatten the curve. He believes the state may have reopened too soon.

“We were talking 1,700 cases the last time we talked. That’s been a large number. Now, that number is 9,500 for one day,” he explained.

Palatka canceled its fireworks show and Hill said it was the right choice as other cities, including Jacksonville, continue with its shows this weekend.

“Based on the numbers, it’s very difficult to see me putting anything in place that would create large gatherings,” Hill said.

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