Orange County leaders concerned protests could lead to increase in COVID-19 cases

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — While demonstrations continue across Central Florida, some local leaders are concerned about the impact it could have on COVID-19.

Officials said there is a delicate balance between protesting to save lives and social distancing to save lives.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he knows the passion of those impacted by George Floyd’s death, but when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled our economy, he’s worried the uprising could lead to an uptick in cases.


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"I saw significant numbers of people in those gatherings who were not paying respect to social distancing. They were not wearing masks,” Demings said.

While Orange County's positivity rate remains relatively low, the daily increase in cases continues to be unstable.

A month ago, Orange County had single-digit increases each day. But the last three weeks have been in the double digits.

May 26: 18 new cases

May 27: 28 new cases

May 28: 25 new cases

May 29: 43 new cases

May 30: 31 new cases

May 31: 26 new cases

June 1: 29 new cases

June 2: 17 new cases

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Orange County commissioners received an update on COVID-19 in the county Tuesday.

Officials said the county currently has 34 people in the hospital, 41 overall deaths, a positivity rate of 2.8% out of more than 72,000 people tested, and 90% of all who have been infected have fully recovered from the virus.

"I believe that we're in good shape, but in order to have the kind of success and outcomes that we've enjoyed at this point, people have to continue adhering to the guidelines,” Demings said.

Demings said the county is buying time right now until a vaccine is ready.

And he said he doesn't think the governor will move into phase two of Florida’s reopening plan until we have peace in all metro areas.

Because it takes about seven to 14 days for someone who is infected to show symptoms, the county likely won't know until next week if the protests have furthered the spread of COVID-19.

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See the latest numbers in the state below:

TOTAL: 57,447

DEATHS: 2,530

Orange: 2,048

Polk: 1,053

Volusia: 752

Osceola: 709

Seminole: 493

Brevard: 427

Lake: 306

Sumter: 255

Marion: 255

Flagler: 190

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.