Orange County leaders want 50% vaccination rate before easing mask mandate

Mayor Jerry Demings said mask mandate could be relaxed by late summer

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he wants to see 50 percent of people in the county vaccinated before there are any thoughts on relaxing the mask mandate.

More than 481,000 people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Orange County and more than 290,000 people have completed their vaccine series, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The mayor wants to see more people sign up for a vaccine appointment.

“[The goal] is to get the shots in as many arms as we possibly can,” Demings said.

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Demings said 29.73% of Orange County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and he said 53.5% of people 40 and older have received at least one shot.

The herd immunity goal is about 80% of the county population to be vaccinated.

Demings said he will work with the department of health to work on a phasing plan for mask mandates.

“It’s going to likely be several months before you can see a significant reduction in facial coverage,” Demings said.

There is a chance of an earlier or later timetable, according to Demings.

Demings said you will see social distance requirements for Orange County residents relaxed before a mask mandate is relaxed.

Everyone 16 and older is eligible for the vaccine in Orange County.

Anyone who is 16 or 17 must have a parent or guardian with them.

Orange County has posted a list of vaccine sites at this link, there are 120 sites in the county.

“The convention center is fast and convenient. You don’t even have to get out of your vehicle,” Demings said.

Demings added there are plenty of appointments available at the Orange County Convention Center.

The county has offered 17,000 appointments for this week, 11,000 appointments as of 5 p.m. Monday are still available.

The 14-day rolling percentage of testing positive for COVID-19 in Orange County is at 7.6, it was around 5% in March.

The DOH reports more than 130,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since March of 2020.

Health officials report 2,685 people have been hospitalized from COVID-19 in Orange County and 1,228 people have died from the virus.

Hospitalizations have slightly increased, according to Demings, the Orange County leader discussed the number with health leaders.

“They were not at the level where they were very concerned about it, but they’re monitoring it,” Demings said.