ORLANDO, Fla. – It may be New Year’s Eve, but most Floridians won’t be celebrating in their usual style as the Sunshine State continues to report tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases.
Ahead of the holiday that typically draws massive crowds in the downtown Orlando area, Orange County has said that its strike teams will be out and about to ensure that local businesses are abiding by social distancing requirements, mask mandates and other guidelines designed to stop the spread of the deadly respiratory illness.
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Orange County issued an executive order earlier this month to begin fining businesses that repeatedly violate those rules. As of Wednesday, nine businesses have been fined and 40 have been warned.
As far as the guidance for the holiday weekend, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said his words of caution are the same as they were for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida reports nearly 13,500 new cases as state begins inoculating 4 million seniors]
“You really don’t need to celebrate New Year’s Eve the way you have in the past at a crowded bar. If you’re going to do something, doing it outside and certainly socially distancing and wearing your mask,” Dyer said Monday. “You know, we see the light at the end of the tunnel at this point. So we’ve been at this for 10 months and I would encourage everybody to heed the caution for this New Year’s Eve.”
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County also voiced concerns about the holiday.
“If you don’t have to go, don’t go. We are very close. We’re very close to start turning this around. It’s not the time to get more people infected,” Pino said.
At the Orange County Convention Center, where both testing and vaccinations for elderly residents have been underway this week, cars lined up for hours Thursday morning.
All state-supported testing sites will be closed Friday and reopen Saturday at 9 a.m. Vaccination efforts at the convention center came to a close at about noon and will resume on Monday.
Vaccination sites across the state have seen long lines this week and other demand-related difficulties that’s made the process difficult for the state’s seniors.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked for patience.
“The COVID vaccine supply is limited,” DeSantis said Wednesday. “We don’t have enough vaccine on hand for all 4 million-plus senior citizens. We will get there.”
The Florida Department of Health reported 16,653 new cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,323,315 cases since March.
Editor’s note: Along with the resources previously utilized by News 6 (state and county-by-county data), as of Dec. 7, WKMG has added state data pulled from the Florida Department of Health’s Florida COVID19 State Testing Totals. This new dataset includes the number of people tested the day prior, which is the number public health officials use to calculate the state’s daily positivity rate.
Florida reported 133 new virus deaths Thursday. This means at least 21,990 people have died in relation to the coronavirus across the state, including 317 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Thursday afternoon, there are currently 6,363 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Since March, 62,868 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from the coronavirus. That number includes the 360 people who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report.
The percent of positive results ranged from 9.93% to 26.32% during the past two weeks and was 11.57% Wednesday. This reflected the 16,653 positive cases reported out of 143,927 tests reported to the state.
The Florida Department of Health recently began releasing a daily report on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. As of Thursday, 211,165 people have been vaccinated in Florida.
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