ORLANDO, Fla. — Orange County residents were ordered Thursday afternoon to wear face coverings in public places amid a staggering spike in coronavirus cases locally and statewide.
What You Need To Know
- Amid spiking COVID-19 numbers, Orange County mandates face masks
- County officials say average age of people testing positive is dropping
- 28 Orlando Fire Department personnel have tested positive, quarantined
- READ IT: ▼ Full text of executive order issued by Mayor Jerry Demings ▼
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings's executive order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and will also apply to residents within the city of Orlando as well as visitors to Orange County, he said during a news conference.
"The virus is not done with us," he said.
Demings said the county has seen an double-digit increase in COVID-19 cases and a subsequent increase in hospitalizations.
Not only are the numbers of people testing positive sharply rising, but the average age of people contracting the virus is trending younger. Orange County officials say the average age of positive cases is now 29. For the past two weeks, 42% of COVID-19 cases were seen in people ages 20-29, Orange County Health Department Director Raul Pino said.
One cluster of 152 cases near the UCF area was linked to ZIP codes for housing for UCF students, Pino said. The median age of patients was 21.
"If the trend continues, where we continue to see increases, triple numbers, on a day-to-day basis, if we see a significant increase in the number of people in our hospitals, that will trigger something else," Demings said.
He said there's no criminal penalties yet and that "our goal is to gain voluntary compliance."
Demings echoed Gov. Ron DeSantis's sentiments from earlier this week, saying Florida won't consider another full shutdown until hospitals reach close to capacity. He called the mask mandate "buying time."
“This executive order is in the best interest of all businesses, especially bars and restaurants. I will tell you we do not want to experience another shutdown,” he said.
The face covering needs to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. People who are outside actively exercising don't have to wear a mask while they're working out.
The mandate comes a day after the board that runs the Orlando International Airport required 22,000 of its badged workers to wear masks or face coverings in common areas, ahead of an anticipated increase in passenger traffic as the state continues to reopen.
DeSantis has echoed the Trump administration's assertion that more testing has led to an increase in positive cases. On Wednesday, the coronavirus testing site at the Orange County Convention Center conducted a record-high 1,021 tests, officials there said.
At the Orlando Fire Department, 28 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus and have been quarantined. Two Orlando Police officers are also in quarantine.
Seminole County is considering instituting a face-covering mandate, officials there said.
"We are reviewing this as a step. We have a leadership meeting in the morning and early afternoon to discuss," said Alan Harris, Seminole County’s director of emergency management.
READ IT: Full executive order by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings
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