ORLANDO, Fla. – Many school districts, including in Central Florida, have reconsidered their mask policies following a Florida judge’s ruling last week that found Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority by issuing an executive order banning mask mandates.
The judge officially filed his decision Thursday, saying Florida school districts can legally require students to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper’s ruling says DeSantis’ executive order giving parents the final say if their children wear masks in school is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.
Heated debates over mask policies in schools took place in Central Florida over the last week. Volusia County Schools voted to implement a mandate following a contentious hearing, which became boisterous at times. Seminole County Public Schools, following hours of public comment, voted to keep its existing mask policy and Lake County Schools ended its meeting with no decision on the recommended policy.
Since the decision last week, over 10 Florida school boards voted to defy DeSantis and impose mask requirements with no parental opt-out. These moves prompted the Florida Department of Education to begin withholding payments to school boards in Alachua and Broward counties.
AdventHealth officials said this week they are cautiously optimistic after current COVID-19 conditions prompted the company’s transition from “black” status to “red” status. The facilities were operating under black status in recent weeks due to an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients, which meant officials deferred non-emergency surgeries at hospitals throughout Central Florida.
Under red status, additional deferred surgical procedures will be allowed to move forward. During a briefing on Thursday, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Victor Herrera said fewer admissions in hospitals is a step in the right direction for the latest surge in coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 deaths in Florida are keeping funeral homes across the state busy as staff members work to provide the best service to families who have lost loved ones. The funeral business felt the pain of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 but funeral workers in Florida said the worst of the pandemic hit late this summer.
As Florida continues to see high levels of COVID-19 cases, officials at Orlando International Airport are anticipating crowds more than double what the airport experienced during last year’s Labor Day weekend travel. The busiest travel day of the holiday weekend is expected to be on Saturday, when Orlando International Airport is forecast to have more than 53,000 departures.
[READ THE LAST COVID-19 REPORT: Florida averages 21,680 COVID cases per day as hospital morgues reach capacity]
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Sept. 3
The Florida Department of Health reported 129,202 new cases on Friday that occurred during the past week, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,308,916 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 18,457 new infections reported per day.
Even though the Florida DOH released numbers once a week, the state is still reporting daily infections to the CDC. Below is the CDC daily number, which is 24 hours behind.
Florida reported 433 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 46,324 actually shows there have been 2,345 new deaths added to the state total. The state has not provided any information as to when these deaths occurred.
The state stopped reporting the number of non-residents who died in Florida with its new weekly reporting method.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration deleted its current COVID-19 hospitalization database and the state is no longer reporting how many patients have been hospitalized with the virus. However, Florida is still required to report that information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC continues to release that information online. The most recent hospital numbers show 14,074 adult and 205 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 15.2% but did not provide how many people were tested during the past week. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.
The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. In the new weekly reports, the state is combining the vaccination data with the COVID-19 infection numbers.
FDOH reports 10,880,393 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.
During the past week, 168,300 new people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Central Florida region
The state is no longer providing a breakdown of county-by-county deaths or hospitalizations as of June 3. The Florida DOH is also no longer providing county numbers for non-residents who have tested positive, causing the total case numbers to drop significantly, in some counties by more than 1,000 cases.
For example, with non-resident positive cases as of June 3, Orange County had reported a total of 143,198 but with the state’s new reporting method, the county has 141,941 total cases, a difference of 1,257 positive cases.
Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases and new vaccination numbers between Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2021.
|County||Total cases as of Sept. 2||New cases since Aug. 27||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 12+ population vaccinated|