Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Thursday that every person in the county must wear a mask, an effort to try to stem a resurgence of the coronavirus seen in the past 10 days.
“We do not want to experience another shutdown in our community,” Demings said, noting there could be more restrictions in the future.
The order will take effect on Saturday and remain in place indefinitely. People are permitted to take off the mask while eating or drinking, but must wear the mask as they enter the establishment, Demings said. Employees of businesses must wear a face covering at all times.
“We’re buying time with this measure,” Demings said until a vaccine or cure for the virus is found.
There will not be any criminal sanctions for violations at this time, Demings said, adding “that’s the last thing we want to do.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the county order will cover the city as well and urged people to wear masks even in the Florida humidity.
“The virus is not only still here in our community, but it’s expanding in our community,” Dyer said.
Dr. Raul Pino, the state’s health department’s officer in Orange, said he is monitoring a number of outbreaks across the county including at five bars, a grocery store, a long-term care facility and some workplaces, including a construction company.
“So it’s all over the place,” Pino said.
He said there are 152 cases linked to two ZIP codes that include student housing for the University of Central Florida. A UCF spokesman said earlier this week that at least 78 cases have been linked to the university since the start of the pandemic, most of them since June 1.
Pino said the median age of infected people associated with the university is 21 years old. Overall, the median age of people who have tested positive in Orange has dropped to 29 for the prior two weeks, Pino said.
Orange County reported 212 coronavirus cases Thursday, shattering its previous record set earlier this week and the rate of positive tests was in the double digits for the second consecutive day, a clear sign that the virus is again spreading in Central Florida.
To the north, Seminole County also added a record high in cases with 51, and 10.8% of its tests came back positive.
A daily update on the coronavirus crisis in Florida.
The virus has seen a resurgence across Central Florida over the past 10 days after the region effectively flattened the curve in April and May by closing businesses and ordering residents to stay at home except for essential errands.
As businesses have reopened and people have grown more comfortable venturing out, officials fear complacency in following CDC guidelines like wearing masks and keeping physical distance from each other may be helping to fuel the rise in new cases. may have set in, fueling the rise in new cases.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Wednesday that he would sign an executive order calling for businesses to require employees to wear masks starting Friday evening to combat the rise in cases in the Gulf Coast city. He’s also working on an order requiring all residents to wear masks in businesses, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Elsewhere in Central Florida, Osceola County added 25 new cases yesterday with 7.1% of tests coming back positive, and Lake County reported 26 new cases with 4.1% of tests positive.
News Source: Orlando Sentinel.