Coronavirus preparations underway in Orange County

Mayor Jerry Demings said county officials believe it’s only ‘a matter of time’ until the coronavirus arrives in Central Florida.

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  • | 2:40 p.m. March 3, 2020
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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After Gov. Ron DeSantis announced two confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Florida, Orange County leaders announced they’ve taking measures locally to prepare for the virus.

County officials held a press conference Monday, March 2, regarding the steps being taken to prepare for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Of the two confirmed cases of the virus in Florida, one case is located in Manatee County and the other case is in Hillsborough County. On March 1, DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency and statewide response for the coronavirus.

A third confirmed case of coronavirus in Florida was announced Tuesday, March 3, at press time.

Mayor Jerry Demings said it’s just a matter of time before the coronavirus arrives in the Central Florida area. He added that the county began preparing for the virus Jan. 29.

“We at Orange County have been monitoring and planning for the day the coronavirus would become a public health emergency in our community, and that day, of course, is today,” Demings said. “With two cases in Florida, but well outside of Orange County, we believe it’s a matter of time before we have a case right here in our backyard.”

Demings added that, despite the fast pace at which the virus has been spreading, county leaders are remaining calm and are encouraging residents to do the same. The county has been working behind the scenes with the Florida Department of Health to make sure local officials are ready to address the virus.

“If a case occurs in Orange County, we have protocols and procedures in place,” Demings said. 

Orange County paramedics and firefighters are prepared and have been trained for any coronavirus response. Dr. Raul Pino, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said than 30 individuals in the county are being monitored for the virus. These individuals have recently traveled to regions of the world where the virus is present. He added that these are “very, very low-risk individuals” and they will be monitored for 14 days.

“We are prepared to take the necessary steps from a political point of view but also from a health point of view,” Pino said. “We have received legal advice in how to isolate (and) quarantine and (we) encourage individuals to take the precautions that they need.” 


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