Article Courtesy of The Palm
By Mike Diamond
Published July 31, 2020
With Palm Beach County's stubborn trend of COVID-19 cases, some age-restricted
gated communities west of Boynton Beach and Lake Worth are again going into
The closings are
getting push back from a number of residents who had
campaigned hard for their homeowner associations to reopen
in late May after a nearly three-month shutdown.
Bellagio in Lake Worth and Coral Lakes, Valencia Bay and
Valencia Reserve in Boynton Beach say the closings are
necessary to contain the spread of the virus. Last week,
Valencia Bay and Valencia Reserve closed all of their
facilities indefinitely "out of an abundance of caution."
The state Department of Health does not release case numbers
for individual developments. The homeowner associations ask
residents to inform them if they contract the virus but
there is no law that says they must do so. State data is
collected by zip code as well as by municipality. And the
33473 zip code, where the Bay and Reserve are located, has
seen its number of cases increase from just 16 on June 8 to
86 on July 26. About 20,000 people live in the zip code that
consists of seven gated communities; three of them age
A sign on a window: A sign posted on the door at
Most infections reported in each Florida ZIP code have affected people who live
in those areas, but some cases may be people who were only tested there.
At Valencia Bay, a pickleball player who played several times a week tested
positive for the virus. The HOA board has urged everyone who came into even
indirect contact with the person to get tested.
At Valencia Reserve, a substitute tennis pro reported he golfed with someone and
that person golfed with someone else who has the virus. The substitute tennis
pro gave lessons to nine Valencia Reserve residents. All of them have been urged
to get tested as well. The substitute tennis pro is awaiting his test results.
The shutdown did not sit well with one resident who posted on the Next Door
community web site: "Someone played golf with someone and that person golfed
with someone else who got the virus and we close down again?"
Even with the increase, at 86 cases, the 33473 ZIP code has the lowest number of
cases of the 39 zip codes in Palm Beach County with a population of more than
10,000, and it is also the lowest on a per-capita basis as well. More than 30
ZIP codes have 500 or more cases, eight have more than 1,000.
Yet the average age in most age-restricted communities is well over the 65, and
the HOAs are not taking any chances when it comes to the possibility of
"Obviously, we are in the midst of a pandemic that is spiking in Florida. As a
result, the board will take reasonable and necessary steps to try to minimize
the infection threat within our senior, at risk community," said Valencia
Reserve HOA President Michael Schiffman in an email to residents on July 24. "We
hope that these closures will be temporary until we are confident that the
transmission risk is lowered." Calls placed to Schiffman seeking comment were
At Valencia Reserve, the HOA is doing its own contact tracing, identifying
anyone who had even indirect contact with the substitute tennis pro and then
urging them to get tested for the virus. The pro gave lessons to nine residents.
At Valencia Bay, the same attempt to do contact tracing is occurring. Valencia
Bay management declined to comment on the shutdown.
In an email sent July 24, the Valencia Bay HOA said it decided to close the
facilities out of "an abundance of caution while the investigation continues
pending further developments of any spread of the virus." It also suspended its
outdoor dining program.
At Coral Lakes, the board voted last week to continue its shutdown through the
end of July. It only reopened for 10 days when a tennis player became infected
with the virus earlier in the month. There have been three other cases reported
at Coral Lakes in the last two weeks as well, prompting the board in a close
vote to remain closed.
And at Bellagio, another large active-adult retirement community, facilities
have been closed since June 23 after a tennis player came down with the virus.
Meanwhile, so far so good at Valencia Cove, an 833-unit retirement community
just north of Valencia Bay and south of Valencia Reserve.
David Haft, HOA president, noted that the only way the community will become
aware of an infection is if a resident informs management. Otherwise, it has no
information. There has been only one confirmed case at the Cove, and that was
more than three months ago, he said.
The community reopened its facilities on a limited basis on July 1.