Orange County mired in COVID-19 surge with ‘significant increase’ in new cases

County sees increase in revenue from tourism for the month of June

With COVID-19 cases surging, Orange County opens new testing site at Econ Soccer Complex

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County leaders held a somber news conference on Monday ahead of the first day of school for students in the county district.

Mayor Jerry Demings announced that nearly 5,700 new cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the county since his last briefing on Thursday — which averages out to more than a thousand new cases a day. Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, later added that 1,038 new cases were reported Sunday, 1,197 were reported Saturday and 1,458 cases were reported on Friday.

“We continue to see a significant increase in the number of new cases here within Orange County as well as all across the state of Florida,” Demings said.

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Because of that increase, Demings announced that the county is opening a third COVID-19 testing site. The new site will open Tuesday at Clarcona Elementary School at 3607 Damon Road in Apopka.

The free drive-thru testing site will run daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in addition to the site already operating at Barnett Park and the other that recently opened at Econ Soccer Complex on Yates Road, and will offer rapid and PCR tests, according to county officials.

In addition to the new cases, Demings announced that the county had seen 15 additional deaths from the coronavirus since his news conference last Monday.

The 14-day rolling positivity rate for Orange County is 19.72%, according to the mayor, which is slightly lower than what was reported during Thursday’s news conference, which was 20.83%.

Despite that drop, Demings said the positivity rate is “much higher than we want to see.”

Pino added that the age group seeing the biggest increase in cases was between the ages of 5 and 44.

The doctor report an increase in the number of vaccinations in the county. He said that 48.8% of the 12- to 17-year-olds in the county have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 64.3% of the eligible population had received at least one dose. He added that 54.37% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.

“So what had happened now (during this surge), that didn’t happen before is that we are seeing more first doses than second doses,” Pino said. “So that’s a good thing because that talks about intake.”

In addition to adding a third testing site, the county is also moving vaccinations away from Barnett Park to Camping World Stadium starting on Tuesday.

“The reasons why we are moving the vaccinations to Camping World is it helps to relieve the backup at the Barnett Park because we were doing testing and vaccinations there. And by focusing on just doing the vaccinations at Camping World, we’re able to move people through, we believe, much more efficiently,” Demings said.

On the positive side, County Comptroller Phil Diamond reported an increase in the Tourism Development Tax collections of the month of June.

“We collected about $21,717,000 for the month of June. That is the highest number we’ve had since the beginning of the pandemic. It is still below the levels of 2019, which was our peak year, but it is roughly equivalent to what we did back in 2017,” Diamond said.

He added that June marked the second month in a row that the county did not have to use its cash reserves to offset its TDT spending obligations.

“Our reserve account increased by about $1.5 million for the month of June. However, even though we added two reserves in June, I’d remind you that we’ve used about $143 million of reserves since the pandemic started,” Diamond said.


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.