ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – There’s a possibility an Orange County teacher may have contracted COVID-19 from a student but as of now, health officials say they’re waiting on a second test to confirm the diagnosis.
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said the teacher tested positive using a rapid test so now they’d like the teacher to take a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test to confirm the diagnosis since rapid tests have been known to provide false positives on occasion.
“Not that we are doubting (the test result), it’s that we would like to confirm because it’s a serious statement that we would make after we can confirm that, so we want to be 100% sure,” Pino said.
He provided the response when asked if there was any evidence of secondary transmission within schools, which opened for in-person learning on Aug. 21.
Pino said in total, 30 Orange County students have tested positive for COVID-19, although he said one of those students was in a “private setting” while the other 29 were in public schools.
There was 14 positive students before Aug. 21 so since then, 16 have been added, according to Pino.
“Some of those classrooms, we have not quarantined the entire classroom,” Pino said.
As far as staff goes, Pino said there are “23 confirmed cases right now.” He was unable to say how many of those were teachers but he did say 10 of the staff members work on campuses.
He said 143 individuals have been placed in quarantine, meaning they may have been exposed to a positive case but they have not been diagnosed.
Last week, Orange County Public Schools said it had documented COVID-19 cases in at least 21 students and 15 employees. At that time, 117 members of the campus community had been asked to quarantine.
As cases continue to trend downward, Pino said it might not be until the end of this week or the middle of next week before health officials know the true impact of schools reopening for in-person learning.
“Depending on where the child sat we can look six feet ahead six feet to the sides the back and diagonal and we quarantine those people,” Pino said.
More important than the number of cases, according to Pino, is the ability to control transmission. He said they need to be precise when it comes to removing students, teacher and staff.
“(We want) to try to be as surgical as possible but we need to be as aggressive as needed to curtail the transmission of the virus. So far, so good,” Pino said.
Seating charts and staggering students in the cafeteria will help with that process.
As of Monday, the two-week positivity rate for Orange County is 5.2% and last week, the county reported less than 1,000 new cases for the first time in 11 weeks.
The cumulative totals since March sit at 35,902 cases, 1,106 hospitalizations and 377 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.
While the numbers have been improving both locally and statewide, Pino said residents need to remain vigilant, especially with the Labor Day holiday weekend approaching.
“The county is in a very good shape and we would like people not to take this lightly with a holiday weekend coming and we know from Memorial Day what can happen if we let our guard down,” Pino said.