Florida reports 13,000 new COVID-19 infections as officials plead for safe holiday behavior

Holiday gatherings will lead to more infections

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, travelers walk through Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. With some Americans now paying the price for what they did over Thanksgiving, health officials are warning people begging them, even not to make the same mistake during the Christmas and New Year's season. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File) (Nam Y. Huh, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – One week from Christmas, Florida health care and school officials are pleading for families to continue to observe social distancing over the holiday and not fuel the spread of the coronavirus, which is out of control in some parts of the country.

Dr. Raul Pino, with the Florida Department of Health-Orange County, said Thursday transmission is occurring within homes and among family members, leading to the recent uptick in Orange County’s coronavirus numbers.

He said the virus doesn’t appear to be spreading in schools but it does seem to be spreading from children to parents and vice versa.

“So what we have seen the largest increase right now is (patients aged) 15 to 14, 35 and older. Those are the two segments that we have are seeing increases, significant increases. So those are the age of children and their parents. So that’s one hint,” Pino said of transmission inside the home.

[RELATED: Orange County schools see increase in COVID-19 cases ahead of winter break | Winter travel raises more fears of viral spread]

Orange County Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins said the school district reported 90 new cases on Monday, the highest single-day increase to date.

“We are deeply concerned that those numbers are growing,” Jenkins said.

Tens of millions of people are expected to travel to family gatherings or winter vacations over Christmas, despite pleas by public health experts who fear the result could be another surge in COVID-19 cases.

In the U.S., AAA predicts that about 85 million people will travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, most of them by car. If true, that would be a drop of nearly one-third from a year ago, but still a massive movement of people in the middle of a pandemic.

Experts worry that Christmas and New Year’s will turn into super-spreader events because many people are letting down their guard — either out of pandemic fatigue or the hopeful news that vaccines are starting to be distributed.

If you are having trouble viewing the dashboard on mobile, click here.

[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida reports more than 13,100 new COVID-19 infections, most since mid-July]

Below is a breakdown of cases, recent deaths, hospitalizations and Florida’s positivity rate reported by the state on Dec. 18:


The Florida Department of Health reported 13,019 new cases on Friday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,181,483 cases since March.

Editor’s note: Along with the resources previously utilized by News 6 (state and county-by-county data), as of Dec. 7, WKMG has added state data pulled from the Florida Department of Health’s Florida COVID19 State Testing Totals. This new dataset includes the number of people tested the day prior, which is the number public health officials use to calculate the state’s daily positivity rate.


Florida reported 96 new virus deaths Friday. This means at least 20,690 people have died in relation to coronavirus across the state, including 289 non-residents who died in Florida.


As of Friday afternoon, there are currently 5,182 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration, an increase by about 55 patients within 24 hours.

Since March, 59,602 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from the coronavirus. That number includes the 311 people who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s report.

Positivity rate

The positivity rate for the 148,718 tests reported Friday was 8.75%. This statistic is the number of people who tested positive for the first time based on test results reported to the state Thursday.

See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:

CountyCasesNew casesHospitalizationsNew HospitalizationsDeathsNew deaths

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.

The Associated Press and Adrienne Cutway contributed to this report.

About the Authors: