Orange County extends free COVID-19 testing, vaccinations through October

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced Monday that the county is extending its COVID-19 testing and vaccinations sites through the end of October.

Demings said the vaccination site at Camping World Stadium and testing sites at Clarcona Elementary School and Barnett Park will remain open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The testing site at Econ Soccer Complex is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

READ: Gabby Petito disappearance: FBI search Laundrie family home in Florida

“If we can increase the rate of vaccinations, we all will fare much better in the coming weeks and months,” Demings said.

He said the pandemic continues to be primarily circulated among the unvaccinated.

As of Monday, Demings said 72% of eligible residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

READ: ‘Completely flooded’: Record rainfall leads to flash floods, large washout in Sanford

Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said 13 virus-related deaths were reported since Friday. Of those, he said, two were fully vaccinated. Both of those people were over age 70. One additional person was partially vaccinated, with just one dose.

Demings said the county’s 14-day rolling positivity rate is down to 11.2%, which is about half of what it was a month ago. The goal is still to have a positivity rate of under 5%.

READ: Coronavirus: Pfizer says vaccine prompts strong antibody response in children ages 5 to 11

“Perhaps this will be the last significant surge of the pandemic,” Demings said.

Pino said vaccinating elementary students could mean the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

So far, about 63% of Orange County middle and high schoolers are vaccinated, but it’s the younger kids who make up the bulk of transmission.

READ: Vaccine mandate protesters prepare for recall effort against Orange County mayor

“Five to 14 continues to be the highest group. It goes up and down. But it’s now only 19% and not 25% of all cases,” Pino said.

Orange County Public Schools and the health department are working on a plan to vaccinate kids ages 5 to 11 at school once they’re eligible.

Pino said the health department is in the process of securing about $60 million for those efforts over the next two years.

READ: Firefighters protest against Orange County vaccine mandate

OCPS chief communications officer Scott Howat said when all students are eligible for the vaccine, students throughout the district will have another layer of protection and teachers and staff will be safer at school, too.

But Howart said it would be up to lawmakers if the COVID-19 vaccine will ever be required for students, like other shots are.

WATCH: Orange County school buses overcrowded due to driver shortage, leaving students to sit on the floor

“We would strongly encourage parents to start talking to their medical providers, their pediatricians, about the possibility of their children getting vaccinated,” Howart said.

Howart said OCPS is considering an incentive for parents to get their kids vaccinated.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

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.