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Coronavirus Latest For 03/24: More Than 50 Cases In Orange County

COVID-19 data and surveillance dashboard. Image: Florida Department of Health
COVID-19 data and surveillance dashboard. Image: Florida Department of Health

Updated 9:30 p.m.

52 cases in Orange County

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Orange County has 52 coronavirus cases according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health.

People who have tested positive range in age from 20 to 87. Fifteen people have been hospitalized in the county and two people have died.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina said Tuesday that a deputy tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from overseas. Mina said the deputy had been in isolation for 13 days and had not been at work for three weeks.

"We know it's possible that there maybe other cases in the Orange County Sheriff's Office family," said Mina.

Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Orange County Health Department, said testing had started at a site in East Orange County.

"Yesterday we did nine tests, which is very low, and today we are doing 13, which is a little bit higher but not where we want it to be," said Pino.

"Our capacity there would be around 50 a  day, and I could double that capacity to 100 a day if I had the resources," he said.

"Our department and the county, we are not sitting on our hands, waiting for the supplies to come from the state and the federal government. Although we have put those requests through, we are frantically working around the clock trying to find resources, where-ever they are to bring into our community, and we may have some success in the coming days," he said.

Other Central Florida cases

  • Osceola County  -- 26
  • Seminole County-- 25
  • Volusia County-- 19
  • Brevard County-- 9
  • Lake County-- 14
  • Sumter County-- 10
  • Marion County-- 4

Updated 6:00 p.m.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings mandates a 'stay at home' order

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is signing a county wide 'stay at home' order that takes effect Thursday night.

Demings said the order is necessary to try to slow the spread of coronavirus in the county.

Read the order here.

Orange County now has 50 cases of COVID-19. 12 people have been hospitalized and two people have died.

Statewide there are now 1,412 cases and 18 deaths.

"On March 14th, just one week ago, we had only one case," said Demings

"It is an understatement to say the least that the virus is spreading rapidly within our community, and we want to take every measure possible to slow the spread and keep our residents safe and healthy."

Demings said several of those infected with coronavirus in Central Florida are first responders, TSA agents and firefighters.

The stay at home order goes into effect 11 p.m. Thursday March 26th and end 11 p.m. Thursday April 9th.

The entire county will be asked to stay at home as much as possible with the exception of businesses that are deemed essential.

Mayors and hospital leaders concerned

Mayor Demings said he talked to mayors and hospital leaders before making the decision.

"Every mayor was deeply concerned about the welfare of the residents here within Orange County," he said.

"We believe this is the most effective way to deal with the coronavirus threat. I know this is uncomfortable for our residents but the goal is to stop the spread and get life back to normal as quickly as possible."

"If we stand together as we stay apart, we will stop the spread of the COVID-19 in our community."

Calls flood into rental assistance hotline

Demings said the hotline for rental assistance received 100,000 calls on Monday.

"We understand that families are hurting in our community, and the critical need for these services are certainly significant."

Hours of operation for the hotline have been increased to 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Residents of Orange County who meet the criteria can get assistance for one month's rent.

Non essential businesses to close

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said people will still be allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries, get takeout, pick up medicines, exercise or walk the dog, "as long as you do this while you're practicing social distancing, staying at least six feet apart."

The order will close businesses that are not considered essential, said Dyer.

That includes movie theaters, bowling alleys and shopping malls.

Updated 4:20 p.m.

Gov. DeSantis: People From coronavirus 'hot spots' are seeding the virus in Florida

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Governor Ron DeSantis says focusing on visitors from coronavirus hot spots in the US is the key to keep the virus in check in Florida.

In a press conference Tuesday, DeSantis said people from areas with more coronavirus cases should be staying home and sheltering in place.

"Instead they are seeding in different communities throughout the United States, including here in Florida."

DeSantis said members of the National Guard are at the airports to meet with visitors flying in from the New York area to inform them of the rule to self isolate for fourteen days.

"We had the Florida National Guard in place at a number of our airports, like Miami International and Fort Lauderdale, and so when the individuals come in, they are asked to provide information to the guardsmen, they receive the information about what they need to do in order to self isolate, and they have contact information on who to contact should they be symptomatic."

DeSantis said he would sign an additional order requiring anybody traveling from the New York City area or who has traveled from that area in the last three weeks to self isolate for three weeks and to report any close contacts they have had with people in Florida.

Under an advisory signed by state surgeon general Scott Rivkees, anyone aged 65 and older is advised to stay at home for the next 14 days.

DeSantis said he thinks it's possible to make progress in stopping the spread of coronavirus in Florida without a statewide lockdown. He said he is already worried about the impact of businesses shutting down.

"Let's work to blunt the force of the virus, let's protect those folks who could be most in jeopardy of really negative health impacts, but let's also get society functioning," he said.

DeSantis said he doesn't think a statewide lockdown is warranted.

"I also look at some of these other states that have done it, and I see massive non-compliance, and I'm not even sure how effective it is" said DeSantis.

"If you're doing a big block party in California during a lock down, wouldn't it be better to just go to work? I mean, you're probably going to transmit the virus less in the office than you are with a bunch of drunk idiots in a block party with everybody having a good time."

TSA Union: we need more masks and more tests

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Orlando International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York have the highest number of coronavirus cases among TSA officers. Five TSA workers in Orlando have tested positive so far.

Union leaders want the agency to provide more protective gear and test more officers. 

Deborah Hanna, president of the union representing TSA officers at Orlando International, said they are not being provided with N-95 respirator masks. 

“So we’re getting the cheap surgical masks which don’t help you unless you’re sick already.”

Lack of testing is a problem once a worker gets sick, said David Mollett, who represents the American Federation of Government Employees: 

“The other officers and other people around them are not necessarily being tested, especially if they’re asymptomatic.”

A spokesperson for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority said the airport continues to be deep-cleaned and workers should practice good hygiene and clean frequently used surfaces. 

Updated at 2:25 p.m.

Coronavirus cases increase in Lake County and The Villages

Positive tests for COVID-19 have jumped in The Villages and Lake County in the past few days.

As of this morning, The Villages has 10 cases, nine in the Sumter County part of the sprawling retirement community and one in the Lake County portion.

Overall, Lake has reported 14 people with positive tests for coronavirus, including 4 who are hospitalized. That's an increase of 11 since Friday and five since Monday.

In Sumter County, 10 people -- including eight in the past four days -- are reported to have the virus. Four of them are hospitalized.

The sharp increase comes as the total number of Florida cases has reached 1,412, with 18 deaths due to COVID-19.

Updated 11:50 a.m.

Flagler County calls for masks and glove donations for health care workers

Eighteen Floridians have died from COVID-19, according to the latest figures from the Florida Department of Health.

Florida has a total of 1,412 positive cases, and 1,249 people are being monitored. 

Orange County has 50 cases, the most in Central Florida. The County has had two deaths and 12 hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Sumter County, home to the sprawling retirement community of The Villages, has 10 confirmed cases, including four hospitalizations. Marion County has four confirmed cases.

Statewide, results are pending for 1,008 tests.

See the latest data map with updates across state.

Space Force launch from Cape Canaveral rolls on despite coronavirus concerns

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

A military communication satellite still is scheduled to launch Thursday from Cape Canaveral.

Patrick Air Force Base General Douglas Schiess said concerns over COVID-19 have not caused any delays. The launch of the first satellite for the U.S. Space Force will be supported by a limited number of personnel.

"Over the years, we've lowered the number of people we need for a launch, but our [operations] centers are still the same size. We're doing social distancing within the ops center -- trying to get folks to sit farther apart from each other and wiping down the console's and stuff."

No one on base has tested positive for COVID-19, but some are awaiting test results and remain quarantined.

The base could be used to support other branches and organizations helping with the medical response.

“Sometimes we can be called on to be what’s called an installation support base," Gen. Schiess told reporters Tuesday. "In other words, we may be receiving forces here that would then be doing rescue efforts somewhere else. I could see something similar to that in this situation. But at this time, we haven't been asked to do anything like that."

Flagler County calls for PPE donations for health care providers, first responders

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Flagler County is asking residents and medical offices for donations of face masks, gloves and toilet paper.

The personal protective equipment is being collected for first responders, health care workers and assisted living facilities.

Toilet paper will be distributed to vulnerable residents so they don’t have to go out looking for it.

People can drop off items at Rymfire Elementary School. Volunteers will be curbside to collect supplies between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and then again from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

Anyone with questions or who would like to volunteer can call Flagler County’s main hotline at 386-313-4000.

Breakfast and Lunch Available to Children in Parramore During School Closure

Children who are eighteen years old or younger can get a hot breakfast or lunch at J.U.M.P Ministries Global Church on Colonial Drive.

The site, which is set up as “grab and go” to comply with CDC guidelines, will serve meals until classes resume.

Families can walk up to the site or request home delivery of food.

Breakfast is served Monday through Friday between 8 and 11 a.m. and lunch is served from 12:30  to 3 p.m.

Commissioner Regina Hill, J.U.M.P. Ministries Global Church, Project Life Orlando, and Orlando Magic Forward Jonathan Isaac have provided most of the meals, but the church is asking community members for donations of food.

People can call 321-541-0505 with questions about how to donate.

Students can also get meals at Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia County schools.

PBS changes schedule to educational programming during school closure 

WUCF-TV has temporarily replaced its usual programming with educational programming between 6 am and 6 pm until classes resume.

The new schedule is designed to help students in K-12 continue learning English, language arts, social studies, science and math.

Children can watch programs like Wild Kratts, SciGirls, and Africa’s Great Civiliations that align with state educational standards and are free to the public.

Parents and educators can also access virtual lesson plans and other activities on the PBS Media Align website.

The on-air schedule and online resources can be found at