DOH says COVID-19 is ‘absolutely’ spreading in Orange County schools

Health officials remind parents to answer calls from the health department

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As school gets underway in Orange County, health officials said the district’s COVID-19 positivity rate is 16 percent.

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County said officials were not able to contact all families who may have been exposed to COVID-19 as the agency looks to hire more contact tracing staff.

Dr. Raul Pino with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said the process of placing students into quarantine and clearing them to return to school is taking a lot of resources.

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“Is transmission happening in schools? Absolutely,” Pino said.

Pino said some parents answer the calls from the department of health right away, others do not. He said sometimes the health department has the wrong number or the wrong email address.

Scott Howat with the Orange County Public School District said is it easier to contact trace in elementary schools where students don’t change classrooms often.

“We really need the help from our parents and our students to make sure that they are answering the call when the contact tracers call if they need to,” Howat said.

Health officials said that 50 percent of Orange County residents in the 12-18 age group have received a vaccine. The number is considerably lower than 80 percent of all county residents in the 65 and older group.

“We are just hoping that there is an approval of a vaccine for the younger ages. I mean certainly, we hope for that sooner rather than later. We are doing everything we can at the elementary school,” Howat said.

OCPS said as of Thursday, more than seven percent of students have opted out of the district’s mask requirement. Howitt said that he expects that number to increase.

About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.