Central Florida leaders debate mask rules as state reports nearly 5,300 new COVID-19 cases

Doctors join push to combat vaccine hesitancy

Central Florida leaders debate mask rules as state reports nearly 5,300 new COVID-19 cases
Central Florida leaders debate mask rules as state reports nearly 5,300 new COVID-19 cases

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County leaders are working on a phased approach to easing the county’s mask mandate and Mayor Jerry Demings plans to make a first announcement on what that could look like on Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control announced new mask guidelines Tuesday, saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers.

Demings said the first step in the county’s phased removal of its mask mandates will be to amend the rule to align with the CDC guidance. He has said previously that he would like to see at least 50% of Orange County’s population vaccinated before that happens.

Orange County hosted a medical town hall Monday with the goal of making sure people have the correct data to make an informed decision about their health.

“So when we asked ourselves, ‘What is the risk from the vaccine?’ The more important question is, ‘What is the risk from COVID-19 if you get COVID-19?’ And in almost all the situations when you present that equation, the risk from COVID-19 is far greater than the risk potentially from the vaccine,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Victor Herrera said.

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In nearby Seminole County, elected leaders are debating Tuesday whether to set an end date for that county’s mask rules.

Commissioner Amy Lockhart is behind the proposal and said government mandates shouldn’t be in place indefinitely.

“We need to allow professionals and families to determine what their risk level is,” Lockhart said.

Lockart stressed the change in policy isn’t an anti-mask stance, but instead would bring the county more in line with guidelines from the CDC.

[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Central Florida reports drop in vaccine demand as state adds 3,631 new COVID-19 cases ]

Find the state-run COVID-19 dashboard below:

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on April 27.

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 5,280 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the state’s overall total to 2,217,368 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.

Deaths

Florida reported 46 new virus-related deaths Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 35,646. This number includes the 688 non-residents who died in Florida.

Hospitalizations

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were currently 3,349 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

Since last March, 89,808 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 274 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Tuesday.

Positivity rate

The percent of positive results was 6.92% Monday out of 76,269 tests. The numbers reported daily by the state reflect test results from the day prior. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.

Vaccinations

The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state.

FDOH reports 5,884,717 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.

As of Tuesday, 8,625,933 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations for Tuesday.

CountyCasesNew CasesHospitalizationsNew hospitalizationsDeathsNew deaths
Brevard40,5381062,301148541
Flagler7,161133961109-4
Lake29,027781,4675621-2
Marion30,538592,09812947-1
Orange135,1283512,71961,2391
Osceola43,6281451,4304498-1
Polk66,9222305,083141,3014
Seminole33,3651101,23774860
Sumter9,2201257312752
Volusia42,377852,15997866

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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.