ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County officials said recently that it appears the area is beyond the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, but now, it appears they’ve identified when that peak occurred.
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said that peak happened about a month ago, during the week of March 23, which was the 13th week of the year.
He said that point was about two weeks after local theme parks and other major businesses closed their doors in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Here’s the breakdown of new cases leading up to, during and after the peak at week 13:
|Week||New COVID-19 cases||Percent change|
|6 (Feb. 3 - Feb. 9)||1||0%|
|7 (Feb. 10 - Feb. 16)||2||100%|
|8 (Feb. 17 - Feb. 23)||3||0%|
|9 (Feb. 24 - March 1)||2||-33%|
|10 (March 2 - March 8)||13||550%|
|11 (March 9 - March 15)||79||508%|
|12 (March 16 - March 22)||250||216%|
|13 (March 23 - March 29)||273||9%|
|14 (March 30 - April 5)||220||-19%|
|15 (April 6 - April 12)||173||-21%|
|16 (April 13 - April 19)||147||-15%|
|17 (April 20 - April 26)||61||-59%|
The numbers displayed in the table above were provided by the Florida Department of Health.
“As you can see, it has been a sustained decrease in the number of new cases that we are seeing in the county, which is good news and it’s the sustained decrease in a pandemic that you would like to see before you even engage in a conversation about returning to what normal may be," Pino said.
In total, as of Friday, there have been 1,290 coronavirus cases in Orange County, 30 deaths and 221 hospitalizations.
Of course, the response is far from over as the county plans to open a second round of mobile testing sites next week, free to any resident over 18 regardless of whether they have symptoms.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Friday that plans are in the works to add testing sites in the 32822 and 32824 zip codes, both of which have been identified as local hot spots.
Pino said this increase in testing shows health officials are going out of their way to find new cases, even as the local positive rate is 6%, down 1% compared to Wednesday.
“We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to get tested,” Pino said.
Still, small outbreaks remain a concern locally. Pino said four have been identified thus far: one at Orlando International Airport, one in Apopka and one in a long-term care facility. Pino did not have information readily available on the fourth location during Friday’s news conference.
Pino defined a small outbreak as more than two cases that are linked and have a shared source of transmission.
To get ahead of the curve in catching small outbreaks, local health officials plan to enlist state support in order to perform universal testing at five assisted living facilities.
With more testing efforts underway, Pino said he’s confident that the area has in fact peaked and signs are starting to point to recovery.
“There’s no question that this is good news and I think this is the result of many factors,” Pino said.
Demings said the goal now is to stop a potential second or even third peak locally.
“Now our effort is really focused on preventing a resurgence of the virus in our community," the mayor said.
With the statewide stay-at-home order set to expire on April 30 unless an extension is ordered, Demings said he will likely keep in line with whatever Gov. Ron DeSantis decides when it comes to opening businesses.
No timeline has been given on when that will happen. Orange County’s Economic Recovery Task Force met earlier this week and will meet again on Tuesday. By then, Demings said he hopes to have more guidance from the state.
“My goal is to ensure there is an intersection of being safe and feeling safe before businesses reopen,” he said.