Officials: No COVID-19 outbreaks tied to Central Florida theme parks so far, but volume of needed contact tracing makes it complicated

Video: Officials: No COVID-19 outbreaks tied to Central Florida theme parks so far

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — All of the theme parks in Central Florida have been open now for at least two weeks, and so far there haven’t been any outbreaks of COVID-19 tied to them, according the Orange County Department of Health.

But if there were, officials said, it may be hard to trace.

In a perfect world, Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said the department of health would interview every person who tests positive. And by doing so they'd be able to find out if several of them were all at one park on the same day.

Content Continues Below
“Coronavirus

But right now, he said there’s just too many new cases each day here for that to happen.

“When you get 700 cases, you cannot trace,” Pino said. “You would need an army. We would need 1 million people to trace these individuals. Because every person has 10 to 15 contacts.”

Pino said they're prioritizing tracing contacts for people living in nursing homes, health care workers and first responders.

Channel 9 reporter Lauren Seabrook questioned Pino about how that impacts tracing possible cases at the theme parks.

Seabrook: “With such limited amount of contact tracing going on, how do you know if there’s spread coming from the theme parks?”

Pino: "We may not follow one or two but we are following others and with a sizable outbreak we will be able to know it."

Seabrook: “So you think there would be enough tracing going on that if there was an outbreak at one of the theme parks you would know?”

Pino: "Yes, and we are increasing the number of employees."

Orange County’s Department of Health only has 40 tracers, but it’s in the process of hiring 100 more. That will help trace outbreaks, but Pino said they still rely on people volunteering information on where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with.

“I mean, we can call them and they can hang up and that’s the end,” Pino said.

Disney also has a special agreement with the Department of Health to do its own contact tracing on employees who test positive. Pino said the health department is responsible for tracing visitor cases.

“If they know they have an outbreak with their employees, they would call us right away,” Pino said.

Seabrook reached out to SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World to find out how many employees have tested positive since the reopening. So far, none have responded.