In an emotional address to the community on Tuesday, Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said her 19-year-old daughter is in an emergency room in Orlando after testing positive for COVID-19.
"I'm just giving a warning to those in the community, do not come up to this podium today and try to tell me that this is a virus that doesn't need to be taken seriously," McKinlay said at the start of Tuesday morning's county commission meeting.
McKinlay said her daughter tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, However, things took a troubling turn overnight.
"Over the night at 2 a.m., sent me a text message that she had excruciating shooting leg pains," McKinlay said. "So we don't know if she's dehydrated or if she is throwing blood clots and the virus is attacking her muscular skeletal system."
McKinlay said she's listened patiently for the past six months to members of the community "who want to deny the seriousness of this virus," and warned residents not to bring those types of opinions before commissioners on Tuesday during public comment.
"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. Because I'm here to tell you it absolutely is a virus that needs to be taken seriously," McKinlay said.
Dr. Alina Alonso, the health director for Palm Beach County, said that as of Sept. 13, 33% of new COVID-19 cases in Palm Beach County are in the 15 to 24 age range.
"What else can we do to stop those people from becoming positive?" Alonso asked commissioners. "What's happening is partying late at night, large congregations, house parties. They're having fun."
Alonso added the county needs to focus on stopping the spread of the coronavirus in younger populations, a sentiment that McKinlay echoed.
"You never know which one of the young people in our community are going to be attacked seriously by this virus," McKinlay said. "When [my daughter] 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."
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 44,305 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,216 coronavirus-related deaths in Palm Beach County.