Osceola County launches COVID-19 compliance business task force

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — With new COVID-19 cases rising at an alarming rate, and the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, Osceola County Commissioners have launched a new task force aimed at educating businesses on stopping the spread of the virus.

Called the COVID-19 Education and Compliance Task Force, it’s comprised of members from County Code Enforcement as well as building and fire inspection teams.

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Businesses can expect to start getting visits from the task force starting next week.

Commissioners say the goal isn’t to penalize or shame businesses for not requiring masks or social distancing, but to educate.

“If a business is not following CDC guidelines, you may want to reconsider if you want to patronize that facility,” Board Chair Viviana Janer said.

While Janer says she wants Osceola County businesses open and thriving, she also acknowledges the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate is at nearly 9 percent as new cases and hospitalizations are increasing.

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“This is something to be alarmed by, that the cases have continued to increase at such a rapid pace.”

Jackie Espinosa, owner of the Kissimmee Diner and Matador Tacos, agrees with the move.

“Definitely important,” Espinosa says. “I think the county is trying to mitigate as much as they can with regard to education.”

County commissioners say they’re aware cost may hinder some businesses from complying with CDC guidance.

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In addition to providing education on ways to fight the virus, they’ll also offer information on ways for struggling businesses to get financial help.

The county says there will be no fines for non-compliance.

Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.