Orange County’s largest companies share best practice to stop surge of COVID-19 cases

Orange County’s Economic Recovery task force meets for the first time in over a year

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County’s largest employers came together to share ideas and best practices to stop the surge of COVID-19 cases as part of the Orange County’s Economic Recovery Task Force, meeting for the first time in more than a year on Monday afternoon.

“When we put our best and brightest minds together to address the crisis, we always come out of it better,” Mayor Jerry Demings said at the beginning of the meeting at Camping World Stadium.

The task force is made up of more than four dozen businesses, companies, government bodies that worked together last year on how they could reopen safely.

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Now, they are coming together again to share ideas on how to get more people to wear masks and increase vaccinations.

“What we are doing this week is setting the tone for how we would move forward within this current peak and experience that we are living through today,” Mayor Demings told News 6. “I’m expecting businesses to make consistent decisions about how we will respond as a community.”

Many companies leaning in and taking note when hearing from Walt Disney World’s Senior Vice President of Operations Maribeth Bisienere regarding the company’s move to mandate masks indoors for guests and mandate vaccinations for all U.S. based salaried and “non-union” employees within 60 days. Walt Disney World is Central Florida’s largest employer with nearly 60,000 on staff locally.

“With us, we had to continue on the path we have been on since the very beginning of this in using safety first,” Bisienere said. “What we have decided to do is make sure we are explaining it. I truly believe and we truly believe making this environment as safe as possible is going to give them greater job security and help our business over and help all of us overall.”

Orange County’s second-largest employer, Orange County Public Schools is also now offering $200 incentives to staff who get vaccinated as explained by Superintendent Barbara Jenkins.

“We are also providing incentive for employees getting vaccinated,” Jenkins said at the task force. “Currently, we are at the 40% mark of employees fully vaccinated.”

Other companies are already following suit, as explained by Doug Taylor with Church Street Entertainment.

“This week, by the end of the week we are putting the finishing touches on a likely mandatory vaccine policy, as a part of the policy exploring the use of incentive,” Taylor said. “We will require any new employees to be vaccinated.”

Visit Orlando’s CEO Casandra Matej also serves as co-chair on the task force.

“I do think it’s a domino effect,” Matej said after the meeting. “I think being proactive and bringing all of these businesses together is going to pay results.”

About the Author:

Nadeen Yanes joined News 6 as a general assignment reporter in 2016. She grew up in Leesburg and graduated from the University of Florida. Nadeen has won three Associated Press Awards for her reporting on the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the trial of the Pulse gunman's wife and the capture of an accused cop killer, Markeith Loyd.