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Orange County update: Demings pauses planned loosening of coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Orange County Government TV
Photo: Orange County Government TV

The Orange County mayor has paused his planned loosening of coronavirus safety precautions.

Mayor Jerry Demings says the decision is based on a combination of three concerning trends.

He says Orange County continues to see an increase in its coronavirus test positivity. The 14-day average is 7.6 percent, the highest in more than two months.

Then there's the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause and a slowdown in demand for vaccinations.

Finally, Demings says hospitalizations are edging upward.

He says the county will be guided by data and science.

"Sometime probably summertime, mid- to late summer, we should see where we are really able to relax the facial coverings," he said at a press conference on Thursday.

A reduction in social distancing requirements will come first.

"We may be able to do that in a phase of the continuation of the reopening of businesses here within Orange County," Demings said.

Appointments slow to fill up at Orange County Convention Center

Demand for the coronavirus vaccine in Orange County appears to have slowed.

The Convention Center had 17,000 Pfizer shots available this week.

As of Monday evening, Demings says 11,000 spots were unfilled.

There are 120 vaccine locations, including the FEMA site, where walk-ins are welcome, the Convention Center, the Silver Star Park Gym. There are mobile units and home visits.

"So by doing all of this," he said, "we hope to take away any of the things that may inhibit individuals from getting vaccinated. And we are seeing more people who are helping to become advocates by sharing their own personal experiences."

In fact, Demings is asking residents to post their vaccination stories, tagging Orange County and using the  #IGotMyShot hashtag.

About 30 percent of county residents have gotten at least one dose. He says the goal is 79 percent fully vaccinated.


Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.