ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With schools now starting virtually for all students in Orange County on Aug. 10, the county’s leading health official broke down how many coronavirus cases the county has seen in school-aged children.
According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 1,525 people under 18 years old in Orange County have tested positive for the virus since March with a 12.1% positivity rate compared to the number of minors tested.
Dr. Raul Pino, the Orange County health officer with the Florida Department of Health, said as of Monday, 444 children from infant to four years old have tested positive, three of those are new cases. For children between 5 and 14 years old, 702 have tested positive for the virus, which includes 11 new cases on Monday.
The last age group -- between 15 and 24 year olds, -- that includes juveniles has the largest number of cases but it also includes young adults. From that age group, 5,122 have tested positive, Pino said.
The Florida Department of Health groups 15 to 24 year olds in the same category, which is likely why those numbers are so high, Pino explained. That number includes 53 new reported cases in the past 24 hours as of Monday.
“I just want to remind you that a large number of these cases are going to be 20 to 24 for the cases we saw in late May and beginning of June,” Pino said
A majority of the 31,150 cases in children across the state were reported in teens, between 14-17 years old, according to the Department of Health. Juvenile cases make up abut 20% of the state’s total, which now exceeds 432,000.
More than 300 children with COVID-19 have been hospitalized since March. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration recently began reporting the current hospitalizations but that data does not break down by age group.
Counties in Florida with higher numbers of infections in children are those with more cases overall including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Since March, five children have died in Florida due to coronavirus complications, according to the state. The youngest death was a 9-year-old girl in Putnam County who died July 17, according to her family.
Pino implored parents to make sure their children are current with all vaccinations before the start of the school year.
“Your child needs to be vaccinated before they go to school or they will not be admitted into schools,” Pino said.
The Florida Department of Health in Orange County is offering free vaccines for students through Aug. 8 as part of its back-to-school immunizations event. Appointments are necessary, click to here to learn how to make one. Parents can also call 407-723-5004 to make an appointment.
Pino said 1,800 children have been vaccinated at the West Oaks Mall in Ocoee where the free testing is ongoing but health officials are seeing a decline in appointments.
“Get it done. Because if we see a decline in the number of appointments, we will close the facility at the mall because it’s very resource intense,” Pino said.