Orange County records 316 new COVID-19 cases, a new high by far

Seminole County's numbers also surged in recent days

Orange County recorded 316 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, far higher than the county’s previous one-day total of 193 and continuing an apparent surge throughout greater Orlando in the virus’s outbreak for more  than a week.

Neighboring Seminole County also recorded a new record, by far, for one-day of new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with its first ever total of 100, according to the latest data released Thursday by the Florida Department of Health.

Health officials in both counties have turned their attention and testing in recent days to the region around the University of Central Florida in eastern Orange and Seminole counties. There, they fear, based on contact tracing, college students and other young people in the area have been spreading the disease through one or more of the numerous bars that reopened nearly two weeks ago along or near University Boulevard.

Orlando and Orange County also have allowed for the reopening of the Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando theme parks this month, along with some of the resort areas of Walt Disney World and many smaller attractions throughout the Orange County tourist corridor, including International Drive. Osceola County also has signed off on opening many attractions in its tourist corridor leading east out of Disney World.

Other Central Florida counties, Brevard, Volusia, Lake, and Osceola, also continued to see significant increases in COVID-19 caseloads, compared with the first week in June and most of May when the daily new case counts had dwindled and many officials had hoped the coronavirus outbreak had been kicked. However, their increases have not rivaled Orange and Seminole.

On June 4, the six-county Central Florida region found 69 new COVID-19 cases in total. On Wednesday the six counties totaled 581 new cases, likely the highest one-day count the region has suffered since the outbreak began in earnest in mid-March.

Even if the record-busting tallies seen Thursday were a fluke, they fit a pattern of steady increases through mid-June. The state reports suggest the most recent week is very different from anything the region has seen since early April when the COVID-19 outbreak was initially peaking.

During the week of June 4-10, Central Florida averaged 124 new COVID-19 cases per day. During the most recent week, June 11-17, the region is averaging 332 cases per day.

The increases have been most profound in Orange and Seminole counties. From June 4-10, Orange health officials averaged 73 new cases per day; in the most recent week, 175 cases per day. In Seminole, health officials were averaging just 16 new cases per day during the week of June 4-10; in the most recent week, more than triple that, 51.

Wednesday also marked the second consecutive day that the positive test rates in both Orange and Seminole counties were above 10%. That’s the threshold Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said on Monday he would find troubling. At that time, the positive-test rate already was a concern at 6%.

In Orange County, 10% of the 1,905 people who were tested Wednesday tested positive, and on Tuesday, 12% of 1,024. During the first few days in June the rate was regularly below 3%

In Seminole County, the positive test rates for the past two days were 11% each day, with 300-400 tests conducted each day. In the first few days of June, the positive test rate found by Seminole health officials was regularly below 2%, with 400-700 tests per day.

Brevard County health officials recorded 38 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, with a positive test rate of 8%.

Lake County recorded 31 new cases on Wednesday, with a positive test rate of 4%.

Osceola County recorded 34  new cases Wednesday, with a positive test rate of 7%.

Volusia County recorded 62 new cases Wednesday, with a positive test rate of 5%.

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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