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Orlando Area Now In ‘Crisis Mode’ Amid Covid-19 Surge, Mayor Says

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at July 26, 2021


The mayor of Orange County, Florida—where Orlando is located—declared Monday the major tourism destination is facing a Covid-19 “crisis” thanks to the Delta variant, with Covid-19 cases in the area surging to where they were during its pre-vaccination peak as Florida becomes an epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S.

Key Facts

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said at a news conference Monday the county is “now in crisis mode,” as hospitals in the area have been “sounding the alarms” and reporting “alarming numbers of critically ill individuals entering their hospitals.”

The county’s positivity rate for Covid-19 tests is now at 13.96%, up from 4.28% a month earlier, and the area is now recording nearly 1,000 daily cases, which Demings said is “extraordinary” and “are the numbers we saw at the highest peak last year.”

Demings has already recommended residents wear face masks indoors in crowded settings—including the fully vaccinated—but is hamstrung from enacting an enforceable mask mandate or other measures by a state law that prohibits local and county governments from enforcing Covid-19 restrictions and imposing penalties on those who don’t comply.

The area’s hospital system AdventHealth is now in “red status,” which means it’s imposing additional measures like delaying elective procedures, and the area’s hospitals now have 862 Covid-19 inpatients, as compared with 900 during a peak in January.

AdventHealth chief medical officer Dr. Victor Herrera said Monday the Covid-19 surge is “stretching our capacity,” but said the area hospitals would have the necessary resources and space “to meet the demands of our community” even if cases continue to rise.

Herrera said the county’s spike in cases is “clearly” a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” and “based on what we’ve seen,” the chances of fully vaccinated people being hospitalized “are very low, probably way less than 1%.”

Crucial Quote

“Many of you cannot afford to get sick, many of you do not want to get sick, you do not want to infect your family,” Demings said Monday. “So the time really is now, like no other time in our community, for you to step up to the plate and get vaccinated.”

Big Number

61.59%. That’s the percentage of Orange County residents age 12 and up that have now been vaccinated, the county reported Monday. 


Orange County is home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, two major tourism destinations that are now experiencing significant crowds amid a renewed interest in summer travel. Both of those theme parks have dropped most of their social distancing measures in recent months, including mask mandates, even as the theme parks attract families including children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. Walt Disney World and Universal have not yet responded to requests for comment on whether they could reimpose safety measures in light of the new surge, but Universal previously told Forbes in an email the resort would leave its current mask policies in place—which do not require masks for fully vaccinated people—after Demings recommended masks be worn indoors.

Key Background

Orange County’s Covid-19 surge is part of a broader spike in cases now taking place in Florida, with the White House saying last week one in five Covid-19 cases nationwide are now recorded in the state. The state is now averaging 10,492 cases per day, according to public health data compiled by the New York Times, a 208% increase over the past two weeks, and hospitalizations have increased by 106%. In addition to Orange County, Miami-Dade County is also recommending residents wear masks but is similarly limited by the state law that prohibits stricter restrictions. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has encouraged residents to get vaccinated but has resisted calls for more restrictions, waving off the spike in cases by  claiming the influx is part of a “seasonal increase.” Covid-19 infections are now rising nationwide due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, particularly in areas with lower vaccination rates. Vaccines’ effectiveness at staving off Covid-19 infections appears to be somewhat diminished against the Delta variant, studies suggest, but while breakthrough cases are possible, the vaccines remain highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Further Reading

Orange County mayor: ‘We are now in crisis mode’ (News 13)

Orlando Recommending Even Fully Vaccinated Wear Masks Indoors As Covid-19 Cases Surge Amid Summer Travel Boom (Forbes)

Major Florida Hospital Seeing Biggest Patient Spike Since Pandemic Started (Forbes)

Travel Alert: Florida Is The Epicenter Of The ‘Pandemic Of The Unvaccinated’ (Forbes)

Delta-Fueled Covid Surge Spurs New Mask Mandates — Here Are The States Where They Can’t Legally Be Reimposed (Forbes)

Pfizer Shot Just 39% Effective Against Delta Infection, But Largely Prevents Severe Illness, Israel Study Suggests (Forbes)

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