Orange County health officials see slow flattening of coronavirus curve

Flattening the COVID-19 outbreak curve does not mean it's declining yet, officials said.

The incidence of infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in Orange County may have peaked, but it looks more like a plateau without a downslope yet, medical officials told the Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings‘ Economic Recovery Task Force Wednesday.

“We have seen a flattening over, really, the last 21 days,” said Dr. Scott Brady, senior vice president of ambulatory Services for AdventHealth, one of two major hospital systems in Central Florida.

But while the rise of infections, hospitalizations and deaths followed classic bell-curve models, the downslope has not, he said.

Brady, Dr. George Ralls, system chief quality officer, for Central Florida’s other major hospital system, Orlando Health, and Dr. Raul Pino, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, laid out the landscape for Demings’ task force Wednesday as it began its task of providing plans and consultation to him and other area leaders about when and how Central Florida’s economy might start reopening.

Key to that, they, Demings, and the two task force cochairs, Visit Orlando President George Aguel and Orlando Economic Partnership President Tim Giuliani, seem to agree, is when the region appears to be well on its way to medical recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We need a data-driven approach,” Giuliani said.

The data are saying the rise is over but the decline is barely noticeable.

“As it turned out, turns out the bell-curve has not been the curve we’ve seen in Central Florida. But rather we’ve seen a flattening. We believe that the social distancing is in large part responsible for that flattening in Central Florida,” Brady said.

“We believe the peak is more of a plateau. In the last few days we’ve seen a little bit of a softening, a decrease in that plateau. But I want everybody to understand: we’re not seeing a significant drop yet,” Brady said.

Ralls concurred.

“We are similarly looking at our numbers and watching a reassuring trend in level numbers,” Ralls said. “And as Dr. Brady mentioned, that’s what seeing in the community as well.”

Also concurring, cautiously, was Pino, who has said earlier that it appears Orange County’s COVID-19 outbreak has reached its peak

“We think we may already have had it. That does not mean that is the only one. I do not know how many we are going to have,” Pino said.

Through Tuesday morning’s report from the Florida Department of Health, Orange County has had 1,251 cases of COVID-19, and 224 people hospitalized. Twenty-eight people have died from the disease.

Scott Powers

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 [email protected].


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