Children ages 12 and up should get vaccinated before going back to school next week, Orange County officials urged residents Monday.
“For those who are eligible for the vaccine, please be vaccinated before you come to school,” Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County’s health officer for the Florida Department of Health, said Monday during a news briefing organized by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Pino also urged mask use and washing hands, saying that any one precaution will not be enough to stop the spread of the delta variant. People, including school children, must do all they can, he said.
“It is important to offer that protection to our children, and also we are protecting our family members. Those kids will be going back and forth between two different environments … where we in many cases have multi-generational living,” Pino said. “And when we had our peak in January and in February earlier this year, it was a lot of transmission among family members. And that is why we are concerned.”
Also at the news briefing, Chief Judge Lisa Munyon of Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit Court announced protocol changes at the Orange and Osceola county courthouses, with masks now mandatory for all public spaces within the courthouses, including courtrooms and hearing rooms.
Masks will be available at the security entrances for anyone who did not bring one, she said.
All hearings that can be done virtually will be done so, she said.
However, scheduled trials will proceed.
She also advised that anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 14 days, or who is under mandatory quarantine or isolation, should not come to a courthouse. She told people to call their lawyers, their hearing officers, or their jury rooms to postpone visits.
Both Pino and Munyon made their pleas after Demings announced there were 7,544 new COVID-19 cases reported in Orange County last week, higher than Orange County saw in any week during the January surge. On Saturday, 1,610 new cases were confirmed, Demings said.
The county’s rolling 14-day positive test rate for COVID-19 tests is now nearly 18%, the highest two-week average yet.
Hospitals are filling. AdventHealth moved to Level Black from Level Red, meaning non-emergency surgeries have been postponed and staff are being reassigned back to COVID-19 wards. Other hospitals are taking extraordinary measures as well, Demings said.
“That is really tragic for our entire community,” he said.