BEACHES

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY -

Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion con­tin­ued to show low to mod­er­ate lev­els. Of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon that peo­ple are still com­plain­ing of scratchy throats and wheez­ing.

The Flor­ida Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion said dead fish were be­ing cleaned up off MacArthur Beach Beach State Park on nearby Singer Is­land and would be tested to see if the Kare­nia bre­vis toxin was the cause of death.

The town was closely mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and con­sult­ing with the Flor­ida Depart­ment of Health and Fish and Wildlife as to when the beaches would be safe to re-open, Fire-Res­cue Chief Dar­rel Donatto said.

The town no­ti­fied res­i­dents of the clo­sure on Sun­day, and hoisted red flags to warn vis­i­tors away from Mid­town and Phipps Ocean Park beaches.

Mayor Gail Coniglio said the town was in close con­tact with state and county au­thor­i­ties, and would not re­open the beaches un­til cer­tain it was safe.

“To keep peo­ple safe is our first pri­or­ity,” Coniglio said.

As of Wed­nes­day, the town had not re­sponded to any med­i­cal calls re­lated to the res­pi­ra­tory is­sue, Donatto said.

In an email alert, the town cau­tioned any­one with res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems such as asthma, em­phy­sema or bron­chi­tis to avoid all beaches in town un­til oth­er­wise ad­vised. Any­one who goes to the beach and ex­pe­ri­ences symp­toms in­clud­ing eye ir­ri­ta­tion, itchy throat and cough­ing should leave the beach area and seek air con­di­tion­ing.

If symp­toms per­sist, seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion or call 911.

Christie Sch­wab, prin­ci­pal of Palm Beach Pub­lic Ele­men­tary, said the school is hold­ing phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion classes and re­cess in­doors “due to the air­borne ir­ri­tants.”

There have been no cases of red tide-re­lated ill­ness among stu­dents or staff, she said.

“We (reg­u­larly) check with the school nurse and we are all mon­i­tor­ing what­ever the news is say­ing about red tide,” she said.

The school at 239 Co­coanut Row has 380 stu­dents at­tend­ing kinder­garten through fifth grade.

Craig Pol­lock, the town’s life­guard su­per­vi­sor, will de­cide when it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to re­open the town’s pub­lic beaches, Donatto said.

“He’s fol­low­ing the sit­u­a­tion very closely and talk­ing to (au­thor­i­ties at) other beaches in the area as well,” Donatto said. “Ev­ery­body is kind of in this to­gether.”

Glenn Jer­gensen, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the county’s Tourism De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil, said it is too early to tell how much of an im­pact the county might see in terms of book­ings or other lost busi­ness.

While Jer­gensen hopes the red tide rolls out soon, he said it has come at the slow­est time of the year for tourism.

The tourism sea­son picks up around the hol­i­days, with the peak be­ing from Jan­uary to April, he said. He added ho­tels have not yet re­ported

Peo­ple are still re­port­ing symp­toms in­clud­ing eye ir­ri­ta­tion, itchy throat and cough­ing be­lieved to be caused by

air­borne ef­fects of the red tide.

any changes in vis­i­tors’ plans to come here. Paul Leone, pres­i­dent of The Break­ers, said the re­sort had not re­ceived any can­cel­la­tions as of Tues­day.

Me­lanie Bell / Daily News

Life­guard Ryan Zabovnik wears a mask at Mid­town Beach on Sun­day. The beach re­mains closed due to the pres­ence of the red tide al­gae, a res­pi­ra­tory, skin and eye ir­ri­tant.

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