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Orange County adds 345 new COVID-19 cases

Gov. Ron DeSantis credits contact tracing for finding more cases.

Orange County topped the 300 mark in newly-reported COVID-19 for the fourth time in a week in Tuesday’s report, after not having topped 200 in a single day before the past week.

Seminole County also continued to see numerous new cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus and the six-county Greater Orlando area returned to more than 600 new cases for the region, after a slight dip in Monday’s report to below 500.

The region continues to be one of the hotter spots in Florida, which saw 3,286 new cases statewide, according to the latest report from the Florida Department of Health.

The report comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news briefing at Orlando Regional Medical Center in Orlando, speculating that the increase in cases is due to health officials doing more contact tracing, seeking out people who’ve been in contact with infected patients, and testing them.

That’s been particularly true among college students and other young people, as state and local officials continue to address an outbreak around the University of Central Florida campus. Younger people often are asymptomatic and were unlikely to seek tests in the early weeks of the outbreak. Late Monday, state officials yanked the liquor license for one bar across the street from UCF, The Knight’s Pub, due to repeated violations of state orders for physical distancing.

“They’re going to drive up the rate,” DeSantis said. “But that’s good work. That’s what you want to be doing in order to identify an outbreak and be able to contain it.”

Still, reports also indicate a more random testing, of employees as employers reopening businesses insist their staffs be tested before reporting to work.

Hospitals, too, now are infecting anyone who comes in, whether it’s for the kinds of symptoms COVID-19 usual presents such as respiratory problems, or for anything else including broken legs and gunshot wounds, said officials Orlando Health, the parent company of Orlando Regional Medical Center. The testing is finding an increasing number of infected people, officials said Dr. George Ralls, an Orlando Health vice president.

Another Orlando Health Vice President, Dr. Sunil Desai, said the numbers of people admitted for COVID-19 also is increasing, though their cases are not as often severe. He said the Orlando Health system peaked in April, during the first wave of the outbreak, with 54 COVID-19 patients, with about half of them requiring ventilators. Tuesday’s total in the hospital system was twice that, 108, but only three are on ventilators, Desai said.

Orlando Health has facilities throughout the six-county region, with Orlando Regional Medical Center as its flagship.

The latest report from the Florida Department of Health saw Orange County’s total caseload rise t0 5,502, adding 345 cases since Monday’s report. Orange County’s positive test rate again climbed into the double-digit range that alarms public health officials, with 13.5% of the 2,589 test results coming in Monday showing that tested people were infected.

In Seminole County, 90 new cases recorded in Tuesday’s report brought the county’s total to 1,451. That total has increased 74% just in the previous week over the total the county had seen in the first 12 weeks combined. Seminole saw positive results in 14.4% of the 696 test results that came back Monday.

Osceola County also saw a notable one-day rise in new cases in Tuesday’s report, logging 67, and bringing the county’s total to 1,147. In Osceola, 11.4% of 589 new test results were positive for the disease.

In Volusia County, 38 cases were added in Tuesday’s report for a total of 1,301. Volusia’s positive rate was only 5.8% of 809 newly-returned test results.

In Brevard County, 40 new cases brought the county’s total to 918, setting the county, likely later this week, to become the fifth in Central Florida to top 1,000. Brevard officials saw 8.4% of the 513 new test results come back positive.

In Lake County, 32 new cases were reported, bringing the county’s total to 795. On Monday, 6.6% of 623 new test results came back positive.

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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