To ensure we are equipping our readers with all the information they need, we will continue to report on all travel, safety, and COVID-related news that could impact a Disney Parks visit.
Disney World has maintained certain health and safety measures, while Orange County (where part of Disney World is located) has been referred to as a “rapid riser” county and a COVID-19 hotspot. Now a dominant COVID-19 variant has been identified in Orange County’s wastewater, so here’s what you need to know.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Omicron variant is now the “predominant strain of COVID-19 in Orange County,“ after it was detected in area wastewater samples. While clinical Omicron cases have not been detected yet in the area, wastewater surveillance has been used to get early data on COVID-19 transmission. In the summer, wastewater samples predicted the Delta surge.
The first case of Omicron in the U.S. was detected on December 1st in California, in a fully vaccinated individual who had returned from a trip to South Africa, and at this time no confirmed Omicron cases have been found in Orange County. According to Florida state data, Orange County saw 1,002 new COVID-19 infections last week, which is an increase from the prior two weeks, but a decrease from the second week of August in which the county saw 9,164 new cases largely due to Delta.
Early studies have indicated that Omicron could be less severe than Delta, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that preliminary data is showing that vaccines and boosters are effective against the new strain. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that the majority of hospitalizations right now are due to the Delta variant.
If we look back at December 2020, over 200 Orange County residents died of COVID-19 at that time, compared to just two deaths in December 2021, and local state health officer Dr. Raul Pino said that the COVID-19 14-day positivity rate is at 3.8% right now, compared to 9.2% at the same time last year.
DFB is here to keep you updated on health and safety policies in Disney World and how they may affect your next Disney World trip, so stay tuned for more updates and recommendations from health and science professionals.