Coronavirus infections have plateaued in Orange County at a level that the state’s top health official here called manageable and a sign that locals are “learning to live” with the virus.
“You can plateau at any level — it means [infections] are stable — but this is a good one,” Dr. Raul Pino said Monday after a briefing about the pandemic, blamed for 431 deaths in the county. “If we were to stay at this level, that would be perfect. If we could go lower, even better.”
Positivity rates have held steady under 6% for 14 days and the rolling average for the past two weeks is under 5%.
With low testing rates and, by far, fewer new cases, “We are able to do all the [contact] tracing, all the tracking on the same day that we receive the data,” Pino said. “That’s key. If we can stay this way a little longer it will help to slow the pandemic even more.”
The numbers have plummeted even as more of the county has reopened — bars, playgrounds and schools — though the local state health officer said it’s too soon to know the full impact of the bars, which started pouring drinks again on Sept. 14.
“With that one, I will reserve judgement for another 10 days,” Pino said.
But he also warned of a troubling trend in the data.
He pointed out that more than half of all new cases have flared among people who are between 15 and 34 years of age.
“It’s basically young adults and their parents,” Pino said. “That’s where the pandemic is right now.”
He said infections among those socially-active age groups are growing at a faster rate here than in the state as a whole.
Mayor Jerry Demings credited the good health news on collaboration of government, health and school officials and more compliance by the public to safety protocols, including his mandate to wear facial coverings in public to prevent airborne spread of the virus.
He noted the teams he created to inspect businesses visited Orlando breweries over the weekend and found all adhering to safety guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to control the virus which causes COVID-19. Inspectors also visited Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in recent days and have now visited all of the county’s theme parks and attractions.
All earned letters of compliance, Demings said.
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