ORLANDO, Fla. – With Legoland set to welcome guests soon and Universal Orlando reopening in June, Florida’s major theme parks will be one of the biggest factors in restoring the state’s economy post-coronavirus but new cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. The Florida Department of Health reported 776 new people have tested positive for the respiratory illness as of Friday.
According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, 2,190 people have died from the virus since early March, that numbers includes 46 new fatalities Friday. However, that number could be greater. After push back, the DOH gave medical examiners permission to begin releasing death numbers again, showing discrepancies between the state dashboard and what local medical examiner’s offices have reported.
Death data is delayed either way, according to the DOH dashboard, and could take up to two weeks to report.
As of Friday, 49,451 people have tested positive for the virus since March 1, of those 9,117 have required hospitalizations. The state does not report recovery numbers or the current number of hospitalized coronavirus patients, only the overall total.
On Friday, Legoland announced it had been given the final approval from Gov. Ron DeSantis to reopen its resort and parks.
All theme parks, large and small, need to receive approval from municipal and county government before seeking approval to reopen from the state.
A Universal Orlando executive presented its reopening plan to the Orange County reopening task force Thursday and received approval. Universal announced Friday that it will welcome guests as soon as June 5.
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Demings did approve plans for smaller area attractions to reopen and sent a letter to DeSantis seeking the go ahead for Fun Spot, Gatorland, ICON park and other I-Drive area attractions to reopen, some as soon as this weekend.
Under DeSantis’ stay-at-home executive order, all vacation rentals were prohibited but under the phase one reopening order counties may submit plans to begin allowing rentals again.
Vacation rentals in Osceola, Sumter and Flagler counties have been given approval to resume and Orange and Brevard counties are awaiting state approval after submitting plans to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations. Click here to see a list of all Florida counties now allowing vacation rentals again.
As restrictions are lifted and COVID-19 testing continues, new cases of the virus will continue to spread. As of Friday, in the Central Florida region, Polk County has reported the most deaths from the virus at 49.
Below is a breakdown of coronavirus cases in Central Florida by county:
Central Florida theme parks and attractions are key to the state’s economy and tourism, which has taken a big hit due to coronavirus closures. Florida’s unemployment rate was just shy of 13% in April from 4.3% in March and from 2.8% in February.
About 1.3 million Floridians had lost their jobs out of a workforce of 10 million when a survey for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was conducted in mid-April, a number that has continued to climb into May.
Florida remains under phase one of the governor’s multi-stage reopening plan. No timeline has been given for when the state will enter phase two.