ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County leaders are raising concerns over a rise in COVID-19 infections in the county, which is now seeing a positivity rate above 5% for the first time in weeks.
“Orange County’s 14-day rolling positivity rate is 5.99% nearly 6%, which is an increase of 1.89 points from our last news briefing,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said during a news briefing Wednesday. “What that means is the numbers are not trending in the right direction.”
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County later added that this is the highest positivity rate the county has seen since May 22.
According to Pino, the largest percentage in new cases is among people who are between the ages of 15 and 34 years old.
“That’s the age we have the most unvaccinated people,” Pino said.
Pino said his department did an analysis of the number of deaths and hospitalizations in the county since Feb. 22, which is when the first people to be vaccinated would have acquired immunity to COVID-19, until June 22. The findings, according to Pino, show that out of 185 deaths, 177 of them —95.7% — were unvaccinated and out of 530 hospitalizations, 506 of them — 95.5% — were unvaccinated.
The doctor said that about 40% of Orange County’s population remains unvaccinated. He fears that this could help lead to a variant of the coronavirus that may be resistant to vaccines.
“The more people that have the ability to host a virus because they are not vaccinated, the more likely that the virus will continue to mutate and those mutations that are going to survive are the ones that are most infectious because those are the ones that are going to spread quicker than the other mutations,” Pino said.
It is an issue we are already starting to see with the delta variant, which is becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the variant accounts for more than half of all COVID-19 cases.
According to Pino, the county has 40 confirmed cases of the delta variant so far.
“But always remember, those numbers are probably higher because that’s what has been reported to us,” he said. “So, this is the time to get vaccinated. If we do not take those steps — either people who are unvaccinated don’t adhere to CDC guidelines for unvaccinated individuals, which include includes even wearing a mask indoors or crowded spaces for those who are not vaccinated, washing your hands and keeping your distance — we are going to have, as described in the national press, and I think we said it before, we are going to have a pandemic brewing in unvaccinated people and then we’re going to have about 60% of our population, protected.”
You can find vaccination sites in Orange County by clicking here.