While local leaders continue to allow tourism interests to operate at full capacity and visitors from all over the country come to Orlando, elected officials are warning residents there is a local COVID crisis as the delta variant spreads. Orange County is currently seeing roughly 1,000 COVID-19 cases a day according to officials.
“We are now in crisis mode,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said about COVID-19.
UPDATE: Mayor Demings Calls for Mandatory Vaccinations & Masks Indoors
Based on numbers from Saturday, the Florida Department of Health is reporting that Orange County’s 14-day rolling positivity rate is over 14% percent. On June 28, 2021 the rate was 4.28%. Just two weeks ago, Mayor Demings called for wearing face masks indoors again. However, Mayor Demings had nothing to say specifically to tourism interests or the theme parks in his most recent briefing.
Mayor Demings called the local COVID-19 numbers “discouraging” and “extraordinary.” He pushed residents to get vaccinated to slow the spread and save lives. In addition to getting the vaccine, the Mayor recommends that Orange County citizens wear facial coverings, socially distance, wash their hands frequently, and follow CDC guidelines. While he would not rule out a mask mandate in the future, there is still no current mandate. There could be a big COVID-19 conflict with Governor Ron DeSantis in the near future.
“The state methods of responding to this has not been what I thought that it should be, especially in recent times,” said Mayor Demings. “It appears our state has not taken action in a timely manner.” He hinted that adjustments will be made soon due to the current spread, but would not provide specific details or timelines.
The total positive cases is 160,222 in Orange County and 1,383 deaths. Currently, 61.59% of county residents 12 years old and up have been vaccinated.
The mayor also had a recent conference call with hospitals in the region and surrounding counties. “All of them were sounding the alarms,” Mayor Demings said.
Local health officials said there has been a significant increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19. “We are approaching an all-time high in terms of our in-patient number of COVID-19 cases, which is stretching our capacity,” said Dr. Victor Herrera, Chief Medical Officer of AdventHealth Orlando.
AdventHealth is seeing a significant and swift increase in COVID-19 cases in all of its hospitals throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Polk, Volusia and Flagler counties. It is now in “red status” which means new precautionary measures. Additionally, the daily positivity rate at AdventHealth Centra Care remains at near all-time highs.
Even though the Orange County School Board recently voted to make face masks and coverings optional for the next school year, School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs said the issue was not fully decided and made it clear they could change that decision in the coming weeks.
Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, a Democrat, has also imposed a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for his employees, indicating panic from another local official due to the delta variant spread. A request has been made for a response from Governor DeSantis’ office.
For vaccination information and locations, visit the county’s website: www.ocfl.net/vaccine.