In a step towards reopening that may restore jobs to thousands of Floridians, theme parks across Central Florida are inching closer to reopening, even if the momentum is incremental.
As major theme parks, including Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World, formulate their plans and procedures to reopen, cases of COVID-19 are still being reported in the state - the very disease that caused the parks to shutter in March.
As of Friday afternoon, the Florida Department of Health reported 1,212 new cases of COVID-19 since about the same time Thursday, as well as 49 new deaths related to the respiratory illness.
This brings the total number of cases of COVID-19 reported in Florida since it was first detected in the state on March 1 to 54,497, as well as 2,413 deaths.
Since March, 9,982 people with severe cases of the virus have required hospitalization. The state does not report the number of current patients in hospitals with the coronavirus or the number of individuals who have recovered from the disease after being diagnosed.
Here is how total cases, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19, reported by the FDOH, break down by local Central Florida county:
|County||Total cases||Total hospitalizations||Total deaths|
Walt Disney World is waiting in line for reopening approval from Gov. Ron DeSantis. Park officials are aiming for a July 11 opening, but even if that date is approved by the governor, the theme park experience will be unlike guests and cast members have seen before.
According to Disney officials, face coverings will be required for all guests ages two and up and temperature screenings will be required in some locations. Officials also announced that parades, fireworks and character encounters will be suspended, as well as FastPass+ and dining reservations.
Disney Springs began it’s phased reopening on May 20 and since then, guests have been monitored by “social distancing squads," which Disney officials said have been popular with guests.
[READ MORE: Walt Disney World waits in line for governor’s approval to reopen]
Interim SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson said the company would like SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove to reopen on June 11.
Universal Orlando will be the first in Central Florida to open starting June 5 after it recently received approval from the governor.
Not all places of entertainment have such promising outlooks, though. Half of the full-time employees and part-time workers who help with shows and events at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will be furloughed, the center said in a statement on Thursday.
The furloughs are set to begin Monday and anyone impacted by the cuts will continue to receive health, dental and vision benefits, according to the Dr. Phillips Center.
[MORE DETAILS: Dr. Phillips Center furloughs 50% of events staff amid COVID-19 pandemic]
News 6 has put together a list of all the major Central Florida attractions that are up and running right now and welcoming guests. You can find a link to that list here.
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