‘We are in crisis mode:’ Orange County seeing nearly 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, leaders say

AdventHealth moves to red status as new hospitalizations increase

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County leaders gave a somber update on the county’s COVID-19 response Monday.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings was joined by Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, and Dr. Victor Herrera, of AdventHealth.

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This briefing came as Florida is once again seeing a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations due to the virus. On Monday, the mayor said the county was seeing nearly 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.

“Those are the numbers we saw at the highest peak last year,” Demings said. “A thousand a day is extraordinary. We are now in crisis mode.”

During the last county news conference on July 19, Pino said Orange County is seeing new COVID-19 cases in numbers similar to what was seen in January, which is when the state saw its peak of viral infections. Pino again emphasized Monday that these new infections are virtually exclusive to people who remain unvaccinated.

“On Friday, (there) was 1,031 cases. On Friday, (of) those (1,031) cases, no one was vaccinated. Not a single person,” Pino said. “The numbers continue to be greater between 15 to 44 years old, but especially the 25 to 44-year-olds should get vaccinated. That’s where we have the highest number (of new infections) in our community.”

Pino announced that the youngest death in the county from COVID-19 is a 27-year-old and that the median age among those who have died from the virus is 59. The doctor said Orange County has seen 13 deaths in just the last week.

AdventHealth Orlando Chief Medical Officer Dr. Victor Herrera also spoke at Monday’s news conference. He announced that AdventHealth, Central Florida’s largest hospital chain, has once again elevated its emergency status to “red” due to rising COVID-19 patients.

“When we are in a situation like this one, where our capacity is a stretch, we may have to reschedule care that is not urgent. So, as a reminder, that is what level red means. We do a systematic review of all procedures that are scheduled for patients, and if there is something that can wait, then we make that decision, in collaboration with a doctor taking care of that patient, so we can increase our capacity,” Herrera said.

Despite the elevated status, AdventHealth officials said it is not at risk of reaching capacity.

“Although we are in a very tight capacity situation, we stand ready to meet the demands of our community, and all the health care needs,” Herrera said. “We have the appropriate equipment, space and everything that is needed — even if cases continue to go up — to continue to care for COVID and not COVID-19 patients.”

He added that 90% of COVID-19 patients in the hospital right now are unvaccinated.

“If somebody gets a COVID-19 vaccine, based on what we’ve seen, their chances of get being hospitalized, are very low, or probably way less than 1%,” Herrera said.

According to the county, 61.59% of Orange County residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The county’s 14-day rolling positivity rate for new COVID-19 cases is 13.96%

On Friday, the state released its latest weekly report on Florida’s COVID-19 infections and vaccinations, showing the state was averaging 10,457 new cases per day.

About 5,300 Floridians are now hospitalized with COVID, a 65% jump since last week and a number that has nearly tripled since June 14, when 1,845 were hospitalized, the Florida Hospital Association said. Officials have said more than 95% of those hospitalized were not vaccinated.

The data has prompted medical and state leaders to push for Florida to return to the practice of issuing daily reports on the status of COVID-19 cases in the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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.