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'Things Are Going To Get Ugly' - Orlando-Area COVID-19 Hospitalizations At New Peak

Florida's Community Coronavirus Dashboard
Rebekah Jones says she was fired after she refused to manipulate coronavirus data at the Florida health department. Now she has launched her own COVID-19 data portal for the state.

Florida has again set a new record for positive COVID-19 cases: Nearly 5,500 positive cases Tuesday alone.

Statewide, about 16 percent of COVID-19 tests are coming back positive - a figure epidemiologists warn is an indication that community spread isn't being controlled.

In Orange County, 561 people tested positive Tuesday. Orange County’s average daily number of COVID-19 cases is up 415 percent compared to two weeks, according to an analysis done by NPR using data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Raul Pino with the Orange County Health Department said for Orange County's population, 20 to 50 positive tests per day would be expected. The median age of people testing positive is 29-years-old - a good sign for now.

“It will not stay with the younger population," Pino warned. "Those people go back home. Those people see grandma, aunt, and visit assisted living facilities. And that’s when things are going to get ugly.”

Nationwide, coronavirus infections are climbing rapidly among young Americans in a number of states where bars, stores and restaurants have reopened. It's a disturbing generational shift that not only puts young people in greater peril than many realize, but also poses an even bigger danger to the elders who cross their paths.

National figures show that almost as soon as states began reopening, people 18 to 49 years old quickly became the age bracket most likely to be diagnosed with new cases. And although every age group saw an increase in cases during the first week in June, the numbers shot up fastest in this younger age group.

The two biggest hospital systems in Orange County - AdventHealth and Orlando Health - have more COVID-19 patients hospitalized now than at the last peak in April. Dr. Vincent Hsu with AdventHealth said the good news is that fewer patients are in intensive care units on ventilators.

But, he warned, that could change.

“We’re not in a crisis mode right now, but we’re very concerned by this increase," Hsu said. "Typically, hospitalizations lag behind the number of diagnosed cases.”

The median age of those testing positive in Orange County is under 30 years old. Officials are worried that the younger population will begin to spread it to more vulnerable groups.