ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida counties are continuing to iron out mask policies as the Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday updated its guidance for use.
In an effort to roll back mask requirements, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced a three-phased plan to ease social distancing and mask guidelines.
The CDC said fully vaccinated Americans would not have to wear masks outside unless they are in a big crowd and, in some circumstances, unvaccinated Americans can go without masks outdoors as well.
“I believe that the CDC probably made the right call,” Demings said to News 6 on Tuesday. “What the CDC has recommended is consistent with what I have received in the way of research.”
The mayor announced the first phase will be in effect immediately, which will reduce distancing guidelines from 6 feet apart to 3 feet apart in all settings. This phase also says those who are fully vaccinated should follow guidelines set forth by the CDC.
Prior to this announcement, state officials announced the Orange County Convention Center would be stopping first doses this weekend. The final opportunity for people to receive their first dose will be Saturday as the county works toward mobile vaccination sites to reach those unable to travel to the convention center.
“We’ve created an index that looks at the number of cases, the mortality in the area, and how they are socially ranked by the CDC with the social vulnerability index. We mix all that, we establish our ranking and we will go to those places that are higher risk to having an outbreak,” Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino said during a town hall on Monday.
Overall, the director for the CDC said the revised mask guidance comes as vaccination numbers increase and new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are declining.
Seminole County’s commissioners decided the mask mandate would remain during a meeting where they heard from medical experts and community members. The mask mandate will stay in place unless 50% of the county’s eligible population has been vaccinated along with a 30-day decline in virus transmission.
The Volusia County School Board also agreed to considering making masks optional in the classroom following a work session Tuesday, with school staff being told to draft a policy that would make face masks optional for in-person learning beginning July 1.
Florida’s state of emergency has been extended for another 60 days by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The state of emergency allows DeSantis to direct funds as necessary toward supplies, equipment and personnel needs. The Florida Legislature also agreed on a $101.5 billion state budget, with the governor’s original proposal sitting at $96.6 billion. This will also include a $1,000 bonus for first responders, teachers and early learning instructors.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Central Florida leaders debate mask rules as state reports nearly 5,300 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 28.
The Florida Department of Health reported 5,145 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the state’s overall total to 2,222,546 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.
Florida reported 76 new virus-related deaths Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 35,722. This number includes the 692 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were currently 3,299 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Since last March, 90,059 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 251 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Wednesday.
The percent of positive results was 5.76% Tuesday out of 89,385 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.
The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state.
FDOH reports 5,985,537 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 Wednesday, 8,684,024 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 Wednesday.
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