ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County leaders announced Monday that pediatric cases in children ages 5 to 14 make up roughly 20% of all new COVID-19 cases in the county, making them the age group contributing the most new infections in the area.
The announcement was made by Alvina Chu, epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, during a news conference on the county’s COVID-19 response.
“This is a change from the previous picture of what we had seen,” Chu said. “The 25 to 44 (age range) remains very high (in contributions to new infections), but within the last few days, the largest age group that contributes to the newest cases is the 5- to 14-year-olds.”
According to data from HHS.gov, there were 257 confirmed and/or suspected pediatric cases of COVID-19 across Florida hospitals on Monday. There were 176 children hospitalized in Florida with confirmed with COVID-19, data showed. The numbers are reported to the CDC from Florida hospitals on a daily basis.
Chu added that the delta variant continues to be the dominant source of COVID cases in Orange County.
“This reflects what is happening in the United States as well, where the predominant strain occurring right now is the highly contagious delta variant,” Chu said. “The age range for those cases is 0 to 97 years, with the median (age) of 34 years.”
Despite the increase in pediatric cases, the number of new infections is holding somewhat steady. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings reiterated his suspicions that the county’s infections may have plateaued.
“The 14-day rate of positive, new cases within our community still remains around the 20% mark and it has been at that level now for the last couple of weeks,” Demings said. “At 20%, maybe we’ve plateaued. The good news — if there’s any — is that the number isn’t going up, but it’s staying about the same. It’s still high. It is much higher than what we want to see in our community.”
Chu added that Orange County remains at a high level of transmission, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. According to Chu, that threshold is 100 new infections for every 100,000 people in the county and a seven-day rolling positivity rate of greater than 10%.
Chu said the county is currently seeing 555 new infections for every 100,000 people in the county and a 19% seven-day rolling positivity rate.
According to the county, 66.07% of the eligible population has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The county has a list of locations online where people can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including the county-run site at Camping World Stadium. You can find that by clicking here.
The county now has three county-run testing sites — Barnett Park, Econ Soccer Complex and the former Clarcona Elementary School. Each site is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information on those testing sites can be found here.
OCPS Spokesperson Scott Howat said the district was expecting an increase in cases.
“Are they surprising? No. Not in the middle of this delta variant. We are at 100 percent capacity right now. Six months ago, we were at about half the capacity we are now,” Howat said.
Howat said recent cases played a factor in the school board’s decision to require a doctor’s note to “opt-out” of the mask mandate.
“Children can be carriers. They can be an asymptomatic carrier and they can take it home to their parents or grandparents and work on the community spread or Vice versa. They could bring it in and jeopardize our staff,” Howat said.