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Osceola joins Orange County issuing stay-at-home order to prevent spread of coronavirus

Residents will still be able to get groceries and essentials; go outside for exercise

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Osceola County leaders announced an executive order Wednesday that asks all of its residents to stay at home for two weeks beginning Thursday night in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

County leaders along with Kissimmee, St. Cloud officials announced the decision to issue a stay-at-home order at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The stay-at-home order begins Thursday at 11 p.m. and will end April 9 at 11 p.m. Osceola County residents are also under a curfew due to the pandemic, which remains in place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

The order does not apply to essential businesses and workers.

“This is a global pandemic we are battling here in Osceola County,” Sheriff Russ Gibson said.

Law enforcement will disperse groups of people of 10 or more, Gibson said. Violating the order could lead to arrest or a $500 fine, according to the sheriff.

Osceola County’s announcement comes a day after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued a stay-at-home order for his residents earlier in the week. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has indicated other counties may follow their lead. Click here to see a list of exempt businesses and workers.

Osceola County Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Viviana Janer said the county’s order essentially mirrors the one issues in Orange County and the leaders of both counties worked together to prevent confusion among Central Florida residents.

Janer added that a state-wide order would have been preferable but the county voted to take this step after it became clear one was not coming.

Health officials say the stay-at-home order will help prevent the spread of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19. The virus is spread from person to person.

There are more than 35 confirmed cases in Osceola County, 77 in Orange County and more than 1,600 cases across the state as of Wednesday morning, according to the Florida Department of Health.

[RELATED: Osceola schools feeding children breakfast, lunch during coronavirus school shutdowns]

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he does not want to close off Florida and order a state-wide stay-at-home order like some states have leaving it up to cities and counties to issue their own, including Orange, Miami-Dade, Alachua, Hillsborough counties and now Osceola County.

Meanwhile beaches in Volusia and Brevard counties stay open drawing crowds during what would be spring break for some.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter or go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.