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Seminole County: Social distancing is working to flatten curve in coronavirus cases

County officials say they won’t mandate face masks, but recommends residents wear them

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The coronavirus curve could be flattening in Seminole County, according to county health and emergency officials. During a press conference Monday, county officials said they are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

According to Alan Harris, Seminole County Emergency Manager, there have been 269 confirmed cases in Seminole County so far. He said 163 of those have recovered, and two have died from the virus. He also mentioned that there are 301 people who have reported to be self-isolating because they believe they may have been exposed to someone that has the virus.

Department of Health Seminole Health Officer, Donna Walsh reported that between March 30 and April 6, COVID-19 cases in the county doubled, and in the past week cases have only gone up 20%. Walsh and Harris said that is evidence that the curve is starting to flatten.

"Social distancing is working. The social distancing order that we placed before any other type of social distancing order in the state of Florida, is starting to work. We are starting to see a slight curve, which is good. That means people are social distancing in our community, people are being mindful of large groups and large gatherings," said Harris.

Walsh said the "swab tests" detects acute cases of COVID-19, but says new antibody tests will become available soon in the state.

"The benefits of an antibody test, is that we then can detect if persons in our community have been infected but had mild or no symptoms at all. So in other words, the burden of the disease in our community. As we learn more about this virus, more information is coming forward from researchers and scientists," Walsh said. "As we know today, it appears that those who have been infected may develop some if not entire immunity from the virus."

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Walsh said the antibody tests are not used to diagnose people with the virus, but to just detect whether some one has been exposed or had the virus in the past.

Sheriff Dennis Lemma said that since March 30, there hasn't been any written violations due to any person or business not following the county's COVID-19 orders or state-wide mandates. He did mention there were two written warnings given out, one at a car dealership in Winter Springs, and another at an Altamonte Springs hair salon.

Lemma said there has been a downward trend in crime including murder, robbery, assault and larceny. He said there was a 38% reduction in those types of crimes compared to the same time last year.

“When commerce slows down, when there’s less people on the roads, there’s less of an opportunity to get involved in more traditional criminal acts. So we see that trend continuing,” Lemma said.

Officials in Seminole County are encouraging residents to continue to practice social distancing to prevent further spread of the virus, and to hopefully flatten the curve even more.

“Please protect your nose and mouth with a face shield to protect you and the community. We highly recommend that for the community, right now we have no intention on making that a requirement or law,” Harris said.

County officials also talked about opening new testing sites within the county. Harris said the sites will be a lot smaller than the one at the Orange County Convention Center. He said a new testing site in Sanford is expected to open by the end of the week.

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