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Orange County Prepares For First Batch Of Vaccine; Business Compliance Strike Teams Issue Fines

Danny Banks speaks during an Orange County media briefing. Photo: Orange TV screengrab
Danny Banks speaks during an Orange County media briefing. Photo: Orange TV screengrab

Orange County could see its first batch of coronavirus vaccine arrive next week. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be the first to receive the vaccine. 

But the county’s public safety director Danny Banks said it could be months before everyone will be able to get vaccinated. 

“It's important that people realize that it's not going to be an immediate opportunity for everyone to get vaccinated we anticipate, perhaps only into the 10s of 1000s maybe low 10s of 1000s to really come to Orange County on that first wave,” said Banks.

About 170,000 are expected to be delivered to Florida in the first wave. 

Banks said people should not let their guard down but should keep wearing masks and social distancing even with a vaccine on the way. 

The county says some 159 nursing homes or assisted living facilities qualify for the first wave of vaccines. 

Mayor Jerry Demings said it will take a community effort to encourage people to take the coronavirus vaccine- once it’s widely available. 

Demings said good communication is needed to overcome distrust of a vaccine- particularly in minority communities. 

“To have the kind of success that kind of outcomes that our medical community wants to see clearly the overwhelming majority of people are going to need to take the vaccine in order to take advantage of the vaccine and further contain and eradicate the spread of the virus in our country.”

Strike teams fine some businesses for flouting coronavirus rule

Orange County’s business compliance strike teams have begun warning businesses that aren’t sticking to pandemic safety rules-- and in some cases fining them. 

As of Thursday, the strike teams had warned 11 businesses and issued citations to 5 businesses. 

The teams have been visiting businesses that aren’t following guidelines laid out in the county’s emergency order- ensuring staff and customers are wearing masks, making sure people are social distancing, and putting up signage to highlight those precautions. 

Most of the warnings were issued because staff and customers weren’t wearing masks. In their notes about one business county staff wrote that the owner had no signage, wasn’t wearing a mask and accused the county of harassing him. At another business the manager said he tried to enforce mask wearing but customers would get aggressive. During one visit the strike team saw customers refusing to wear masks when asked by the clerk. 

Businesses that were issued citations included a restaurant where the kitchen staff were not wearing masks while cooking. The citations carry a $300 fine. Businesses that are issued a warning have 14 days to get in compliance. 

"I was optimistic that maybe we will have zero businesses fined this week but, unfortunately, we have those fines," said Demings.

"They certainly were given given ample warnings to come into compliance so we're going to continue to hold our businesses accountable."