Florida averages 41,315 new COVID cases daily as state investigates Orange County health officer

Florida Department of Health conducting inquiry into Dr. Raul Pino over vaccines

Central Florida prepares for more accessible, expansive COVID-19 vaccine campaign

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health is investigating a health officer for the department in Orange County pending an inquiry involving COVID vaccines.

The department said Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, was placed under administrative leave because “the decision to get vaccinated is a personal medical choice.” The DOH said it is conducting an inquiry “to determine if any laws were broken in this case.”

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A spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office forwarded an email Pino sent to the Florida Department of Health office in Orange County saying, “I have a hard time understanding how can we be in public health and not practice it! The reasons can be many, but so many of us?”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings released a statement Wednesday afternoon, calling Pino “our trusted partner and friend throughout the pandemic.” Demings released the statement the same day the county announced that the mayor had tested positive for COVID-19.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released several days of data after the holiday weekend that shows Florida may be turning the corner when it comes to the omicron wave. New data shows there has been a large decline in new infections and the state’s seven-day average of new cases has dropped nearly 25% in less than a week.

The World Health Organization released a new report this week that showed smallest increases in COVID cases were noted in the Americas and Europe. Scientists said last week there were early signs in the U.S. and Britain that omicron-driven outbreaks may have peaked in those countries and that cases could soon fall off sharply.

Modelers are forecasting 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans could die by the time the omicron wave subsides in mid-March. If the higher end of projections comes to pass, that would push total U.S. deaths from COVID-19 over 1 million by early spring.

In an effort to combat the spread of omicron, the White House launched its website this week where Americans can order free at-home COVID tests. The website, COVIDTests.gov, now includes a link for “every home in the U.S.” to access an order form run by the U.S. Postal Service. People can order four at-home tests per residential address, to be delivered by the Postal Service.

The Biden administration is also set to begin giving away 400 million N95 masks starting next week, which will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile.

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Jan. 21:

Cases

The Florida Department of Health reported 289,204 new cases on Friday that occurred between Jan. 14 and Jan. 20, bringing the state’s overall total to 5,280,903 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 41,315 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.

Deaths

Florida reported 140 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 63,763 actually shows there have been 605 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.

Hospitalizations

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 10,898 adult and 242 pediatric patients in Florida.

Positivity rate

The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 26.8% 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.

Vaccinations

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 15,141,101 have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, this is about 73% of the state.

During the past week, 55,287 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. 14- Jan. 20.

CountyTotal cases as of Jan. 20New cases since Jan. 14Total people vaccinatedPercent of 5+ population vaccinated
Brevard116,3497,951402,42169%
Flagler19,4571,29877,40369%
Lake74,4514,352244,96568%
Marion73,0044,696221,67063%
Orange338,53118,7871,033,73775%
Osceola103,6895,552304,44481%
Polk178,58610,837441,76465%
Seminole92,1505,843317,26669%
Sumter18,5001,021102,31776%
Volusia102,6095,718344,41765%

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.