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Orange leaders say demand for tests outstrips supply as Covid cases surge

Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino is shown speaking during a press briefing in 2021. Image: Orange County video
Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino is shown speaking during a press briefing in 2021. Image: Orange County video

Orange County leaders say demand for Covid tests is outstripping supply as record numbers of cases caused by the Omicron variant collide with holiday gatherings. 

They announced Tuesday plans to open a third testing site ahead of New Year’s celebrations and two bowl games this week. 

The testing site will open Thursday at the South Orange Youth Sports Complex, after waits as long as five hours forced sites at Barnett Park and the Econ Soccer Complex to shut down early. 

Raul Pino of the Orange County health department is urging residents to test before and after gatherings, even as he acknowledges the local supply cannot keep up with demand. 

“If we open five sites, the five sites will get full and the five sites will have a two-hour waiting line. That is the reality. A lot of people are wanting to be tested.” 

For those who cannot access tests, he is urging isolating and masking up especially with symptoms. Officials say the positivity rate in Orange County now is at 14%, although the surging numbers of cases has not overwhelmed hospitals.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis for more leadership. He says local governments are left with next to no authority to force masks after the Legislature during a special session approved restrictions on mandates. 

“Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged. And they should ask the question: Now, where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis?”

 

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.