‘Do not make the same mistakes:’ Orange County residents urged to be safe over Labor Day weekend

Leaders don’t want to see COVID-19 cases spike

Cocoa Beach, Fla., is packed with Memorial Day beachgoers on Saturday, May 23, 2020. The beaches are open for business again during the coronavirus epidemic. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP) (Stephen M. Dowell, Orlando Sentinel 2019)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With the long Labor Day weekend about to start, leaders in Orange County are reminding residents to take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 so the region doesn’t experience another spike in cases.

Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said recently, coronavirus data has been improving and case numbers are dropping week over week. The two-week positivity rate for the county is 6.45% and the recovery rate is 95%.

“We had an excellent week last week. This week seems to be doing great. So far we have accumulated in this week 425 cases. Last week, we have 798. So approximately by the end of the week, we are close to 50% of what we saw last week. Unless we see something major over tomorrow on Saturday, I think that this week will continue to be a negative growth,” Pino said.

As of Thursday, the Orlando area has seen a cumulative total of 36,668 cases and 386 deaths since March.

While the situation has improved recently, July was a particularly rough month for the state with daily case totals skyrocketing to as much as 15,000.

That spike was believed to have started after the Memorial Day weekend, when pictures circulating online showed large groups of people without masks.

Pino said being reckless during the upcoming holiday weekend could undo the progress the county has made recently. He added that the local positivity rate is close to the 5% seen as an indicator that the pandemic is being properly managed.

“So the county is in great shape. It’s a holiday weekend coming. Please, please do not make the same mistakes we all made on Memorial Day weekend. Wear your masks, watch your distance and wash your hands and we will continue to decrease this and put it under control,” Pino said.

Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond noted that he believes that if the region as a whole keeps practicing these measures designed to stop the spread, Central Florida will be come more desirable destination for those looking to plan a vacation. He said the county collected about $5 million in tourism development tax dollars in July, which is down 77% or $17 million from the same time last year.

“I think that good health is good for the economy and it’s something that when people think about where they want to go and take a vacation, they’re going to want to go to someplace where they feel safe,” Diamond said.

Pino agreed that residents can still do all the things they once enjoyed, including going to theme parks, but there has to be precautions in place to mitigate any potential outbreaks.

“The lives of others are worth for us to take that little convenience to have a mask, to wash our hands frequently, to keep our distance. We can go to the beach, we can have our barbecue, we can have friends over, as long as we keep those measures in place,” Pino said. “And we know they work, because they have worked here and we have reduced the infection rate.”

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