‘4 out of 10 people in our community are testing positive:’ Orange County mayor says health care workers strained by COVID surge

Demings spoke during county’s 170th COVID-19 briefing Wednesday

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings laid out a grim picture of the current COVID-19 surge and the pressure it is putting on the county’s hospital systems.

“The Florida Hospital Association reports this latest Omicron surge is once again straining hospitals with an increase of patients during one of the worst staffing shortages in decades,” Demings said.

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The FHA reports 11,055 hospitalized patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 235 pediatric cases.

“In consultation with our hospital partners earlier today — they are all seeing an increase in their patients,” Demings said. Adventhealth reported a significant increase in (its) patients. (The hospital system) indicated that 10% of patients who are COVID positive are on ventilators. We also spoke to Orlando Health (which) indicated that (it has) a significant number of COVID positive patients. And we spoke with Nemours Children’s Hospital. (It) indicated that (it has) the highest number of pediatric COVID patients since the pandemic began.”

News 6 reached out to Nemours for clarification. The hospital said it currently has 15 patients who tested positive for COVID-19, up from nine the previous week.

Demings also noted the increased positivity rate among the general population.

“Our 14-day positivity rate has jumped to 40.79%,” Demings said. “That means that four out of 10 people in our community are testing positive.”

The mayor also noted that 289 county employees are currently out sick due to COVID-19 infections, but added that was a drop from 327 the week prior.

Alvina Chu, Florida Department of Health’s director of infectious diseases, also spoke at Wednesday’s briefing. In going through the numbers of COVID infections, she pointed out that most of the new infections were coming from the 25- to 44-year-old age group. She also talked about the increase in deaths from COVID-19

“We’ve had 26 additional COVID-19 related deaths reported to us since our last press conference on January 4. Unfortunately, that brings our total to 2,325,” she said.

Wait times are decreasing since Camping World Stadium opened.

“[With the] opening of the camping world site we’ve seen a 10 percent reduction in the wait time at the three county-sponsored sites,” Demmings said.

He said the demand for testing is still significantly high.

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.