Nearly 1,800 children in Orange County have tested positive for COVID-19
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, left, and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, right, listen as Dr. Raul Pino discusses children COVID-19 cases.

Buddy Dyer, Raul Pino and Jerry Demings
Officials offered thinly veiled criticism about schools reopening.

Orange County officials said Thursday that 1,785 children are among the 30,000 confirmed cases that have been confirmed in the county since March.

And that includes more than 100 infants, and hundreds more children in all age ranges.

Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County health officer from the Florida Department of Health, said Thursday the county’s data show there have been 142 infants confirmed with COVID-19, including a significant number of newborns; 226 children among preschoolers, ages 1-4; 449 elementary school-age children, ages 5-10; 287 middle-school range children, ages 11-13; and 681 high school age children, ages 14-17.

Both he and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings offered thinly veiled critical remarks Thursday about plans to reopen schools for in-person schooling. Pino indicated he hopes a lot of parents decide to arrange distance education for their children. Demings indicated he hopes the School Board might appeal to Gov. Ron DeSantis to change the statewide directive that schools reopen to in-person education.

Pino said his department will monitor and report children’s cases as the county moves toward reopening the schools.

On Thursday, Orange County reported 25 new COVID-19 deaths, though Pino said at least a dozen of those had happened much earlier. The county also recorded 351 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 30,776. Of those people, 275 have died, most of them in the past two weeks.

“Soon enough we will be able to get more into the weeds with regard to the data,” Pino said of the childhood coronavirus cases. “The idea is to have a baseline before the schools open, so that when the schools open and the students and teachers go back to school, we are able to monitor the pandemic within the school system, so that we have the structure to be able to do that.”

Pino would not speculate about how school reopenings might affect the outbreak.

“I think it depends a lot on the number of children that go to the school,” he said. “We are hopeful that many of the parents will select and have the ability to have school with distant-learning, so that those that really need to be present can be and have the safe environment that they need, as well as the teachers.”

Pino said his department’s epidemiologists are reviewing proposals from the Orange County School Board.

Demings said it is possible but unlikely that he might try to require that schools hold off reopening until the county’s positive test rate falls below 5%. In the past week Orange County’s positive test rate has been running in the range of 6-8% each day. That’s an improvement on the double-digit rates seen through much of July, but still higher than the 2-4% rates seen in much of June before the virus outbreak resurged.

Demings called it unfortunate that the statewide directive for schools to reopen, which he said came from the Governor through Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, “diminished the local counties’ authority to make any decisions in that regard.” (DeSantis has said the decision is all Corcoran’s.)

“But here we have an elected body, the School Board, that is entrusted with making the decisions about the education of the students, our children, through the public school system. So it rests with them. Is it possible? I think it’s possible.

“But I think the school district has the burden in this case of understanding what the data says by which some decisions, or make appeals of the Governor to change the directives that have been put out,” Demings said.

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]


5 comments

  • Joe Fatala

    August 6, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Oh yeah, let’s just throw those doors opn for all those school kids and wait and see how many die. Great plan DeSantis. Read about the 6 year old adopted girl in Tennessee who died from Covid.

    “A 6-year-old child, whose parents blogged about her adoption, died of COVID-19 earlier this week in Tennessee.

    The parents of Gigi Morse said in a Facebook post that Gigi “passed away unexpectedly” Tuesday after returning from a doctor’s appointment and taking a nap.”

    Only a MORON would open up schools now. But then Ronnie’s only following his Butt hole buddy, the Sociopath in Chief in the White House.

    • Christian

      August 6, 2020 at 9:10 pm

      Are there not pills for sensationalism hypochondria? Or did you not take yours today?

      • Joe Fatala

        August 7, 2020 at 12:32 am

        Oh, yes and I suppose you’re a qualified medical expert. Did you get your degree in idiocy or were you born that way.

  • jon

    August 6, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    And not a one of them shows signs of illness! It simply does not affect them! This has been proven all over the world!

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 7, 2020 at 6:26 am

    It is criminally negligent to force our children to be community spreaders! Duffus Desantis have you put your children in a public daycare center? Why not? If it is cause your wife is home with the kids! Once again bs! She has appeared with you at least on two occasions. So where were the kids? Duffus Desantis you a damn member of the goptrump death cult!

Comments are closed.


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