Coronavirus outbreak accelerates in greater-Orlando region

554 new cases in Orange County, 174 in Seminole County

The June resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated to previously-unseen levels of infections throughout most of Central Florida Tuesday, according to the latest state reports.

Orange County recorded 554 new cases, far above the 374 peak for a single day that was seen last week. Seminole County recorded 173 new cases, far above the previously-worst daily total of 125, also recorded last week. Brevard County saw 104 new cases and became the fifth county in the Orlando area to top 1,000 for the crisis, according to the latest daily report issued Wednesday morning by the Florida Department of Health.

Across the six-county Central Florida region, also including Volusia, Osceola, and Lake counties, authorities logged 1,017 new cases in a single day, 300 more than had ever been seen in a previous single day, and more than ten times what was typical for daily counts during most of May and early June.

 Seminole County’s outbreak numbers appeared particularly pronounced Wednesday. Test results came back Tuesday for more than 600 people, and 22% — more than one out of every five — were positive for the COVID-19 virus. Seminole County has been averaging reporting 107 new cases per day for the past week. The previous week, the health authorities averaged finding 42 new cases per day. The week before that, 11.

Orange County is experiencing something similar: 17% of nearly 2,700 new test results that came in Tuesday — one out of every six — were positive for the virus. Orange County had never found 200 new cases in single a day until the past week. During the past week, health officials reported an average of 353 new cases per day in Orange. The week before, the average daily count of new cases was 149. The week before that, 60.

Brevard County’s latest report pushed the county over the 1,000 mark for total COVID-19 cases recorded since the outbreak first emerged in Florida in March. With that milestone, Brevard joined Orange, which now has logged 6,056 cases; Seminole, 1,624 cases; Volusia, 1,369 cases; and Osceola, 1,222 cases.

Brevard’s infection rate jumped to 13% among the 700 new test results that came in Tuesday, the first time the county has seen a double-digit positive-test rate in June. In the past week, Brevard health officials have been averaging finding 53 new cases a day, compared with 25 the previous week, and six during the week before that.

What’s happening across the greater Orlando region now is looking comparable to much of the state, which on Wednesday logged a record-smashing 5,511 new COVID-19 cases, with a statewide positive test rate of 18% for the 36,000 results that came in statewide Tuesday.

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis began highlighting the median age of infected people, to demonstrate that most new cases are effecting younger patients while the uptick hasn’t effected the elderly, considered an at-risk population. That has been particularly true in much of Central Florida, where local authorities are reporting some of the lowest average ages in the state. In Orange County, authorities have recently said the average age is 29, perhaps due to a significant outbreak around the campus of the University of Central Florida, where authorities say college-age people are packing campus-area bars.

The virus’ resurgence in Osceola County appeared to lag the rest of the region until the past couple of days when the numbers began to climb. In the latest report, Osceola officials reported 75 new cases, after finding 67 the day before and only 28 in Monday’s report. About 10% of the 700 new test results that came in Tuesday were positive for COVID-19.

In Volusia County, the 68 cases added in Wednesday’s report also were the biggest single-day total for the month of June. Volusia saw a positive test rate of 12% for the nearly 500 results that came in on Tuesday. Volusia’s daily average for the past week was 53, compared with 25 for the previous seven-day period, and six for the week before that.

Lake County is the only county in Central Florida not experiencing a dramatic rise in coronavirus infections The report lists 43 new cases and a positive test rate of 6% for the 700 results that came in on Tuesday. Nonetheless, Lake has been averaging about 41 new cases per day in the past week, compared with 30 the previous week, and five during the week before that. Lake now has totaled 838 cases during the crisis.

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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