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Orange County with 4 new COVID-19 deaths, but state doesn’t count them

Orange County now has 300 cases; Osceola and Seminole counties nearly 100.

Orange County’s official coronavirus information says that there have been four deaths from COVID-19 but there were four more over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The difference is counties are not counting non-residents who die in the Florida Department of Health data, and the most four most recent COVID-19 deaths in Orange County all were of non-residents, said Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County health director with the Florida Department of Health.

Through Monday morning, Orange County had 300 cases, including 56 patients in the hospital.

Officially Orange County has had four COVID-19 deaths, so the unofficial number now is at least eight. Statewide, only Broward County, with 12 deaths, and Palm Beach County, with 10, have official death counts that are higher than eight.

Orange County added 54 cases since Sunday, and has nearly doubled its coronavirus caseload since Friday.

Elsewhere in Central Florida, Osceola County had 94 cases Monday evening; Seminole County, 88; Volusia County, 69; Lake County, 50; and Brevard County, 32.

Throughout Central Florida there were 129 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, according to Florida Department of Health data. Officially, there have been five deaths in Central Florida.

Orange County officials highlighted the four non-residents deaths at a press conference Monday at which they continued to implore residents to stay home, and for non-essential businesses to close.

“We have had additional people who died in this county of the COVID-19 virus. However they were not residents of the county,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said. “But it says and suggests to us that this is really important to our entire community, why we are taking these extraordinary measures in this community.”

Orange County is under a county-wide stay-at-home order from Demings, and he has indicated he intends to extend that order beyond the current April 9 date.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina said his department has had some problems with unauthorized businesses staying open, and with gatherings of young people in violation of the stay-at-home order, but has not arrested anyone. He said his deputies have issued fewer than 15 warnings.

Both Pino and Demings said that Orange County and its hospitals have adequate supplies right now but both said they will need more soon. Demings expressed frustration that requests for more supplies have not been met by the state.

“No. As simple as that, no. We have a number of requests in though the state Emergency Management [Department] and we are still waiting. But we are part of, I think, a demand that is throughout the state of Florida,” Demings said. “We are still optimistic that we will still get the supplies that we have requested.”

Pino said he would like to see Orange County set up a drive-up testing center for “anyone who wants to be tested,” but said that would require thousands of test kits that the county and the Health Department do not have.

He said the county otherwise has the capacity to set up something like that. “We are currently planning for it, in case we get those testing kits,” Pino said.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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