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Orange County looks to relax mask mandate, social distancing as vaccine efforts step up

Several Central Florida counties respond to Orange County update

Orange County looks to relax mask mandate, social distancing as vaccine efforts step up
Orange County looks to relax mask mandate, social distancing as vaccine efforts step up

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County is working on plans to begin phasing out its current rules on masks and social distancing in the Central Florida county.

“We are working with the department of health on a plan to phase reducing requirements of wearing facial coverings and social distancing,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said. “We are reviewing how CDC requirements are evolving along with COVID infection data and a plan will be announced soon.”

The mayor later added, “Those phases will be based upon both the indoor and outdoor capacity of various locations and so you will see a plan of how we will gradually reduce that within the coming weeks or months.”

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Demings did not offer further details about what this phased approach would look like or what parameters it might be contingent upon; however, the mayor said last week that mask mandates could end once half of the county’s population is vaccinated.

“The mask mandate will end, I think, as we get closer to maybe 50% of our overall total population having been vaccinated and dependent upon how soon we get the shots in the arms of people we will make that determination,” Demings said during a news conference on April 5. “Suffice it to say I believe that by the time we get to June... perhaps we should be there at that point. We’ll see.”

After teasing this reduction in COVID-19 restrictions, Demings touted the county’s vaccine efforts. He said that more than 50% of the county’s 40 and older population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. When looking at the county’s entire population, 26.8% had received at least one dose. To put it another way, more than one in every four Orange County residents has received at least one dose of a vaccine.

The mayor also announced several pop-up vaccination sites opening around the county this week. AdventHealth is set to administer 4,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to anyone 16 and older at a pop-up site near the Orlando International Airport. Appointments can be made at http://ocfl.net/vaccine.

“There are also several pop-up vaccination sites happening this week including on Thursday at Bravo supermarkets in the Lake Nona area on Narcoosee Road, will be operating between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and this Friday, April the 16 at the Bravo supermarket on North Semoran Boulevard. In addition to Saturday, April the 17th and Sunday, the 18th there will be vaccinations offered at the Mexican consulate starting at 9 a.m., that is not far away from here on Technology Drive. These are walkup only and Johnson and Johnson shots are given at that location,” Demings added.

These pop-up sites are in addition to the new mobile site which began operation Monday at Barber Park. The mayor said the county will announce the location of the next mobile vaccine site during a news conference on Thursday.

News 6 asked several Central Florida counties to see if other county officials are looking at phasing out mask mandates:

Volusia County

The County continues to follow safety guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health.

Recent and upcoming social media posts, as well as information on the county’s website (Volusia.org/coronavirus), encourage individuals to consider receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Links to the resources such as the CDC are often included for further information regarding vaccines.

Lake County

Lake County and DOH-Lake are making opportunities for vaccinations available to every eligible person who would like a vaccine and we continue to support CDC guidelines.

Brevard County

Lake County and DOH-Lake are making opportunities for vaccinations available to every eligible person who would like a vaccine and we continue to support CDC guidelines.


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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.