Central Florida leaders are making changes to their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic as newly reported cases remain high and continue to be reported in young demographics.
If you plan to be out and about in Orange, Osceola or Seminole County, make sure to bring your face mask with you as wearing one is now mandatory in all three counties.
Seminole County made an about-face decision Monday to require face masks to be work after leaders previously told residents they would not make them mandatory.
Dr. Raul Pino, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said during a news conference Monday that although the county has officially reached the 10,000-mark with its total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the most recent batch of data gives him reason to believe the mask mandate is helping to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Pino emphasized that’s it’s still too soon to know for sure if the lower numbers are a result of the mask mandate, which went into effect June 20 after the county -- much like the state as a whole -- reported a spike in cases as reopening efforts continued throughout Florida.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said he has no plans to make face mask-use mandatory for the entire state.
The heightened precautions come as Florida continues to report high numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases. Saturday saw an all-time high number of cases, with 9,585 new infections reported since the day previous.
Sunday and Monday saw lower statistics, in the 8 and 5 thousand ranges respectively, and while that is a decrease, the number of newly reported cases still rival the numbers seen of new infections when the state first shut down in March in an effort to flatten the curve.
The drop in new positive cases initially sounds like a good sign, but about half as many people were tested Sunday as in previous days. The prior three days saw testing numbers at or above 60,000 for state or private lab testing.
On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 6,093 new cases of COVID-19 since approximately the same time the day before, as well as 58 new deaths and 226 new hospitalizations.
These new statistics bring the total number of coronavirus infections to 152,434 since the virus was first detected in the state on March 1, as well as a total of 3,505 deaths and 14,580 hospitalizations.
The state does not report the number of current patients in hospitals with the coronavirus, but rather the overall total. The state also does not share the number of individuals who have recovered from the disease after being diagnosed.
The newly reported cases also depend on the number of tests administered per day, but the Florida DOH doesn’t release private lab testing in its overall total, so that percentage is difficult to determine.
[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]
While the new numbers remain high, the positive results are likely stemming from infections contracted up to two weeks prior, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that the coronavirus has an incubation period of two to 14 days before symptoms become apparent, if at all.
Some individuals may never experience any symptoms of COVID-19 but may still be positive for the disease, which can lead to asymptomatic spread.
Here’s how coronavirus cases break down locally by county:
|County||Total cases||New cases||Deaths||Hospitalizations||New hospitalizations|
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. Experts are warning Americans that if the upward trend in new COVID-19 cases doesn’t taper off, consequences could be severe.
A study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that if the nation continues to see an elevated infection rate, the US could see an increase of COVID-19 deaths in a range between 159,497 and 213,715.
The use of face masks could save 33,000 lives as the pandemic continues, Poynter reported, nearly as many lives that are lost in traffic crashes each year.
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A few weeks back, Memorial Day drew large crowds as the phased reopening of the state began. About two weeks later, Florida began reporting large amounts of new COVID-19 cases being diagnosed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that symptoms of COVID-19 could take anywhere from two to 14 days to show, meaning the disease could be widely spread before you feel ill.
[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]
Experts worry the July 4 holiday may see a similar boom in transmission with an explosion of new cases, bringing the death toll up as well.
The Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center reported that the US has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world with 2,682,897 infections and 129,544 deaths. Brazil has the second-highest number of infections with 1,368,195 cases of COVID-19.
On Monday, the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard showed there have been 10,417,063 cases of COVID-19 globally with 509,474 total deaths.