The Florida county where the majority of Walt Disney World is located is now under a State of Emergency.
Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their mask guidelines for vaccinated individuals in the U.S.. Today, Orange County, Florida Mayor Jerry Demings gave an update on the current state of COVID-19 infections in the community. The Mayor has signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in an attempt to avoid another shutdown. The state of emergency will last 7 days.
UPDATE: The State of Emergency has been repeatedly extended over the past several weeks. As of the moment, the State of Emergency has been extended through September 22nd. Stay tuned for more updates.
Mayor Demings said, “I will now urge our residents and visitors, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to wear a mask when in an indoor space with others.” When asked why the mask order is voluntary instead of mandatory, the Mayor cited the Florida state government, which he says is restricting the ability of local governments to issue mandates.
Mayor Demings also said he expects the theme parks to follow the CDC recommended guidelines, which right now. The CDC currently recommends ALL individuals should wear masks in public indoor spaces if they’re in areas of high or substantial COVID-19 transmission.
When asked if the community was in crisis, the Mayor responded “yes.” Demings said they need to increase the rate of vaccinations and wearing face coverings.
The Mayor said there are currently over 163,000 cases in Orange County, marking an all-time high. This includes over 1,300 new cases just yesterday. This time last year, there were around 27,400 cases in the county. He said the 14-day positivity rate is also at an all-time high at 15.58% — 6 weeks ago it was 3%. He also says they’re anticipating an increase in upcoming infections.
Over 62% of people 12 and over in the county have at least one vaccination shot, but around 95% of people hospitalized in the Advent Health system with COVID are unvaccinated. Mayor Demings said Advent Health is concerned as this is the fastest increase in COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began.
The Mayor said, “We want to keep our county, our theme parks, and other attractions open.”
Mayor Demings says there is an internal order requiring Orange County employees to be fully vaccinated by the end of September. All Orange County employees are required to wear a mask indoors at O.C. facilities.
The mayor is asking other businesses to follow their lead, saying, “we’re pleading with our community to help us keep our businesses and economy open.”
UPDATE: On August 4th, Mayor Demings issued Executive Order 2021-25, extending the previous State of Local Emergency for an additional 7 days. Stay tuned for more updates. On August 11th, Mayor Demings issued Executive Order 2021-26 and extended the State of Emergency for another 7 days.