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Orange Leaders Worry About Doubling COVID-19 Infections In Nursing Homes

Dr. Regan Schwartz , an emergency room doctor, gets vaccinated against COVID-19 Wednesday, December 16.

Florida added about 10,700 new COVID-19 cases, according to figures released Tuesday, continuing an upswing.

Florida is now averaging more than 11,100 cases per day in the last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University analyzed by NPR, a 14 percent increase over the week prior.

Dr. Raul Pino with Orange County’s Health Department said he’s worried that more than 100 people living in long-term care facilities have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“We doubled the number of individuals with COVID-19 in long-term care facilities,” Pino said. “And this is where we get really concerned about mortality rate.”

The second COVID-19 vaccine to get emergency approval from the FDA has arrived in Central Florida.

Officials expect about 16,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to be delivered in Orange County. Overall, about 50,000 people statewide have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine so far. Right now, it’s being offered to frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Pino said about 5,000 people have gotten the vaccine in Orange County, which isn’t a lot. But it’s a good start.

“And we are going to speed up,” Pino said. “It is safe to assume that we could be doing about 10,000 vaccines per day when we get to full speed. Maybe even more.”

An FDA vaccine panel recommends that people over 75 and frontline essential workers get vaccinated next. That includes first responders, food and agricultural workers, and those who work in education and child care.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will prioritize Floridians over the age of 75 getting vaccinated ahead of essential workers.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 5,600 patients were in the hospital statewide with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19. In total, more than 1.2 million Floridians have gotten COVID-19, and 20,754 have died.

Testing Sites Shutting Down

All state-supported COVID-19 testing sites in Florida will be closed for Christmas.

Testing sites will close for the Christmas holiday and reopen on Saturday the 26th, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

So, if you want to get tested before the holiday, Wednesday is the last day to do it.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said additionally, the testing site at Barnett Park in Orange County will also be shut down.

“Many of the places people are traveling to require testing results to be made known,” Demings said. “The site will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Thursday and Friday. However, it will reopen on Saturday.”


WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

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