‘It’s about to go off:’ As coronavirus cases rise, Florida reports more than 7,400 new infections

Orange County mayor reports disregard for COVID-19 precautions in local businesses

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks to supporters at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in The Villages, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks to supporters at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in The Villages, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As some state leaders opt to put new restrictions into place to stop the spread of the coronavirus as cases surge across the nation, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is not among them. It’s been several weeks since Florida’s top elected leader has provided a COVID-19 update or answered questions about the state’s response.

Health officials have warned that the virus is reaching levels where it cannot be controlled, and even with two promising vaccines on the horizon, it will likely be months before wide distribution is available, providing an additional safety net.

Florida, now in its prime tourism season for visitors from colder climates, continues to lift restrictions as local health officials continue to issue warnings.

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Over the past seven days, the Florida Department of Health has reported an increase in coronavirus hospitalizations. The state saw 300 more hospitalizations from COVID-19 over the previous seven-day period.

Last week, new coronavirus cases increased in Central Florida’s largest county by 36%, according to Dr. Raul Pino, the DOH health officer for Orange County. He said it’s the highest increase the county has seen in the last 15 weeks.

“It feels like the data is in a pressure cooker and it’s about to go off,” Pino said.

With Thanksgiving next week, Pino reminded people that most cases are transmitted from people in their own home. Most of the cases in the county have been transmitted from people who know each other well.

“This is really avoidable and preventable,” Pino said. “It’s not people randomly acquiring it from the air while you are driving. It is mainly people who congregate together in close quarters, small places, poor ventilation, high numbers, not wearing any masks, not washing your hands, not watching your distance.”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings revealed nearly a dozen bars visited by Orange County’s strike teams over the weekend were found not following the county’s COVID-19 guidelines, including social distancing, mask-wearing and increased sanitization.

Demings said eight bars in downtown Orlando and three near UCF were visited Saturday.

“Our strike teams found no masks, no social distancing no hand sanitizers, and no disinfectant at every one of the bars visited,” Demings said. “In addition, some of the members of our teams were insulted by the patrons. And I’m told that some of the bar owners were less than cooperative.”

Below is information provided by the Florida Department of Health for Tuesday, Nov. 17.


The Florida Department of Health reported 7,459 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the state’s overall total to 897,323 cases since March.


The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday reported 86 people have recently died from COVID-19. As of Tuesday’s coronavirus report, a total of 17,861 deaths across the state have been related to the coronavirus, a number that includes 217 non-resident deaths in Florida.

State health officials have always maintained that virus fatalities are often delayed in being reported to the FDOH, with some deaths not reported for a month or more.


Currently, there are 3,367 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. This is an increase by about 100 patients.

Positivity rate

Florida’s positivity rate - the number of positive tests compared to overall tests-- ranged from 7.35% to 11.39% over the past two weeks. For tests reported Monday is was 10.39%.

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Below is a breakdown of the coronavirus numbers across the 10-county Central Florida region for Nov. 17:

CountyCasesNew CasesHospitalizationsNew HospitalizationsDeathsNew Deaths

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