ORLANDO, Fla. – The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a federal vaccine requirement Thursday pushed by the Biden Administration for employees at large businesses to get a COVID-19 vaccine or test regularly while working.
However, the court is allowing the vaccine requirement to stand for most health care workers in the country.
The ruling comes as the country continues to see a high number of COVID cases caused by omicron. The court came to the conclusion the Biden Administration “overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees,” according to the Associated Press.
Prior to the ruling, Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated the mandate would not be enforced in the state.
“The medical mandate for the nurses and doctors what they’re trying to do is insane. In Florida, we provided protections, so they were rehired,” DeSantis said.
In Orange County, Mayor Jerry Demings said during a COVID-19 update this week the county’s positivity rate jumped to 40.79%, meaning “four out of 10 people in our community are testing positive.” Alvina Chu, director of infectious diseases with the Florida Department of Health, pointed out during the update that most of the new infections were coming from the 25- to 44-year-old age group.
Orange County Public Schools is also seeing a staff shortage as employees continue to test positive for COVID and the district is filling gaps with substitute teachers, though at times resort to other measures if there are not enough substitutes.
“In cases where we don’t, we’re actually overfilling with either support professionals that are going into the classroom to fill those gaps or some of the other stuff that’s on a campus,” he said.
Virus levels detected in the wastewater of a couple counties, including Orange County, are showing a drop. Virus levels detected in wastewater are down 65% in the eastern part of Orange County since last week, 45% in the northwest service area and 69% in the southwest. While Altamonte Springs officials are still detecting multiple variants near the city’s sewer service areas, the viral concentration has lessened substantially, officials said.
The rise in cases has also impacted the cruise industry again, prompting Norwegian Cruise Line to cancel numerous cruises, including one based at Port Canaveral. The cruise line announced at least two sailings on the Norwegian Escape ship have been called off, marking the first ship at Port Canaveral to be impacted.
The move comes a couple of weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its travel health notice regarding COVID-19 and cruise ships, warning against cruise travel regardless of vaccination status due to the omicron variant of COVID-19.
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Jan. 14:
The Florida Department of Health reported 430,297 new cases on Friday that occurred between Jan. 7 and Jan. 13, bringing the state’s overall total to 4,992,265 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 61,471 new infections reported per day.
Even though the Florida DOH releases 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 111 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 63,158 actually shows there have been 470 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 10,923 adult and 237 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 29.3% 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 15,067,643 have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, this is about 72% of the state.
During the past week, 86,383 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 Jan. 7- Jan. 13.
|County||Total cases as of Jan. 13||New cases since Jan. 7||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 5+ population vaccinated|