ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County leaders are optimistic that the county has seen its peak for new infections but, at the same time, they are reporting 107 deaths from COVID-19 so far in the month of August and expect that number to rise.
Dr. Raul Pino with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County announced 34 additional deaths reported since Aug. 26 during a news conference Monday morning. Pino said those deaths range in age from 23 to 95 years old. Of those, 27 had known underlying health conditions and the others had none.
“And remember that even in September, we will continue to receive cases from August,” Pino said. “So it will be safe to assume that in the first two weeks of September, we are going to see a number of cases that belong to the August data.”
Pino noted that in July the county reported 58 deaths from COVID-19. In June the county experienced 31 deaths — its lowest number of deaths from the disease since vaccinations began — according to the doctor.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings added that a county employee who worked in the mayor’s office was among those who recently died from the disease.
“This makes the fifth Orange County employee that we had that died,” Demings said. “We know that this is a dangerous disease and it continues to claim lives and we must all continue to do our part to bring it under control.”
The recent rise in deaths has caused issues at hospitals, funeral homes and crematoriums — all of which have reported issues with a lack of cold storage for the bodies. To help, 14 portable morgues are being brought to the county by the Central Florida Disaster Medical Coalition.
In all, the county has seen 1,533 confirmed deaths from the virus since the pandemic began in 2020.
Demings and Pino did provide some positive news — data that appears to show a downward trend in the number of new coronavirus infections.
The 14-day rolling positivity rate for new infections is down to 17.86%. On Thursday of last week, that number was 19.2%.
“There’s good news and bad news. The good news is, the numbers are coming down the bad news is, they’re still really high,” Demings said. “So it is no time for us to sit back and rejoice and relax because if we do that, then we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Pino echoed that concern, noting that the upcoming holiday weekend could cause those numbers to rise if people are not careful.
“People need to adhere to CDC guidelines so that we continue to see the decrease in the number of cases,” the doctor said.
The country reports that 66.81% of the eligible population has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The county maintains a list of vaccination clinics, which can be found here.