Orange County mayor urges all to wear masks inside crowded places as COVID-19 cases rise

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is asking all residents to wear face masks when in crowded, indoor spaces as coronavirus case numbers continue to rise in the community.

Demings said the request is voluntary but is strongly encouraged for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

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Officials said the county has reported 730 new cases on Friday, 651 on Saturday and 570 on Sunday, all of those cases being in people who are unvaccinated.

Those increases, Demings said, are on par with the high numbers the area last reported in January.

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He said the 14-day rolling positivity rate for the virus is now 11.2%, which is nearly triple what it was three weeks ago.

“If you are not vaccinated, now is the time to do so,” Demings said. “... You hold the key to your own destiny in this public health crisis.”

READ: Orange County COVID-19 positivity rate on the rise, mayor recommends masks inside crowded places

Demings said his hands are tied when it comes to enacting a mandate to require masks due to legislation passed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Any such mandates would have to be narrow in theory but must not be fatal in fact,” he said. “So, essentially, what that does is tie the hands of local governments to be able to makes decisions really in the best interest of our residents.”

Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said he’s hoping businesses will either strongly encourage or mandate masks inside.

Watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News at Noon for live updates from the news conference.

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.