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Coronavirus Latest for 3/26: More Than 100 Cases In Orange County

Dr. Raul Pino addresses the media on Thursday March 26th. Image: Orange TV

Updated 9:00 p.m.

Orange County cases hit 100, changes made to stay at home order

Matthew Peddie

Orange County now has over 100 coronavirus cases. As of Thursday evening 119 positive cases had been confirmed. Three people have died and 28 people have been hospitalized.

“Since we last came to you during a news conference, that number has more than doubled during that period of time,” Orange County mayor Jerry Demings said during a briefing Thursday afternoon.

“This is concerning to me. It should be concerning to you.”

Demings said he had also modified the two week stay at home order that takes effect at 11 p.m. tonight.

“We have listened to you the public, and we have made modifications to the executive order that clarifies essential versus non essential business activities. The bottom line is the intent is to not punish people or businesses.”

Find more details about businesses that are considered essential by clicking here.

Orange County ramps up testing

People who have tested positive in Orange County range in age from 9 to 90.

“I’m sad to announce that we have our first child with COVID-19,” said Orange County health officer, Dr. Raul Pino.

“He’s a nine year old, and we hope that he recovers fast so that he can return to school when school opens,” he said.

Dr. Pino said the county will start making its own testing kits on Friday.

“So tomorrow we will be opening a little shop within the health department to start making test kits,” he said.

“We have ingredients to make 200 tomorrow, and we should have another 200 elements for earlier next week.”

Crisis hotline staffs up

Orange County’s rental assistance hotline has struggled to cope with high call volume.

“We are aware that the initial rollout for the crisis hotline to help citizens in this fast moving environment has some challenges,”  said Lonnie Bell, director of community and family services for the county.

Bell said the county has increased the number of staff to take calls, and residents can now fill out an online form to apply for rental assistance.

“We know the need is great,” said Bell.

Updated 7:30 p.m.

An Orange County Firefighter Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Fourteen Others are Quarantined

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Along with the firefighters who are quarantined, one other Orange County Fire rescue employee is in self-isolation. 

Spokesperson Carrie Proudfit said firefighters are masking every patient they come in contact with regardless of whether they show symptoms of coronavirus. 

“You could be that individual with an ankle injury, but because we know that COVID-19 manifests in folks and is asymptomatic with some people, we are doing that extra precaution.”

Patients who are able to walk are being asked to meet the EMTs outside the home, where they can provide care while maintaining six feet of social distancing. 

Proudfit said the department’s contingency plan includes measures to help the station keep running even if more firefighters get sick.  

“We’re not engaging in community events right now, and so we have an amazing staff over there that are being re-trained and learning some additional responsibilities to take some responsibilities off our field crew.”

Firefighters are not the only first responders in Orange County to test positive for the coronavirus: an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy who traveled abroad has also tested positive for the virus.

Updated 1 p.m.

Publix stores to have barriers for cashiers as virus spreads

The Associated Press

Publix says it will begin installing plexiglass barriers at cash registers to protect workers and customers from the coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for the Lakeland-based grocery chain says all of its stores should have the barriers installed within the next two weeks.

Publix has joined its competitors Kroger and Walmart in installing the so-called “sneeze guards.”

Grocery stores are seeing their business soar as authorities urge people only to go out for essentials, prompting them to stay inside and cook more at home.

Publix has more than 1,200 locations spread across Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Updated, 12:15 p.m. 

Some 2,355 COVID-19 Cases In Florida, 28 Deaths

Amy Green, WMFE 

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

Florida has a total of 2,355 positive cases, and 1,655 people are being monitored.

Orange County has 110 cases, the most in Central Florida. The county has had 27 hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Brevard County has the fewest cases in the region at 13. Meanwhile Sumter County, home to the sprawling retirement community of The Villages, has 24 confirmed cases. Marion County has 5 confirmed cases.

Statewide, results are pending for 1,443 tests.

Full Lockdown In Puerto Rico

Amy Green, WMFE

Puerto Rico is under a full lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to a statement from the governor’s office. 

Government agencies, schools and private businesses are closed until March 30th, although businesses related to food distribution, medical supplies, gas and banking remain open. 

A curfew is in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. 

Commercial air traffic is being redirected to an international airport in San Juan, and the Puerto Rico National Guard is enforcing health screenings of all travelers at the airports. 

The governor also has announced partnerships with the private sector, including one with a rum distillery that will use its ethanol production to make hand sanitizers. 

The hand sanitizers will be distributed to hospitals, first responders and citizens.  

Updated 6:00 a.m.

Stay at home orders take effect in Orange and Osceola Counties tonight

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Stay at home orders go into effect in Orange and Osceola Counties starting tonight at 11. The orders are being imposed to try and slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Read Orange County’s order here.

Read Osceola County’s order here.

People are being told to stay home, but will be allowed to go out for groceries or to pick up medicine, for exercise and to pick up food. The order doesn’t apply to people who are considered essential workers. 

First responders and health care workers, will continue to perform their normal functions. 

Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Michelle Guido said people should make sure to have their work ID on them. 

“Basically you would just need to say to them, ‘Look, I work at the hospital. I’m on my way to work.’ or ‘I have a cleaning business and this is what I do.’ Or ‘I work in law enforcement in another agency’ or whatever the case may be,” said Guido.

Nonessential businesses like malls and movie theaters will close while grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. 

In Orange County the penalty for not complying with the order can include a 50 dollar fine and 60 days in jail. 

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about the Orange County stay at home order.

For more of WMFE’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

Stay at Home to Flatten The Curve: Orange County Issues ‘Stay At Home,’ Order Effective March 26, 2020: FAQs

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