Here’s the 5 Things you need to know in and around Osceola County for June 17:
1. Excited for the Disney parks to open next month? Pack your Mickey ears – and your mask.
When the parks open, scheduled now for July 11th at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, and 15th at EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, guests will be required to wear masks — but not everywhere, which will be a relief during the middle of summer.
Per a blog entry at theme-park site Inside the Magic, all four Disney World theme parks are set to have mask-free zones, referred to as “relaxation zones,” where guests can remove their face coverings, sit and chill out for a bit. The Universal Orlando and SeaWorld parks opened with these mask-free zones with tables and chairs where guests are able to get a periodic reprieve from their face coverings in the Florida summer heat.
But Like the adults, kids over three years old will have to wear a mask to cover their small faces, except when dining. These policies will also apply to all cast members and even the characters.
2. After four years, the National Football League’s Pro Bowl is leaving Orlando and headed to Las Vegas in 2021.
The NFL has announced the 2021 Pro Bowl will take place at Allegiant Stadium, the brand-new home of the brand-new Las Vegas Raiders.
Orlando was blessed with intriguing games, rosters and matchups during the four years here, but not blessed with great weather or circumstances. The first three games were played on rainy days, or in the rain, and this year’s game took place just hours after the helicopter crash that took the lives of NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and 10 other passengers.
Central Florida, including Osceola County, felt the influence of the NFL each year at Pro Bowl time. The league made investments in the community and turned ESPN’s Wide World of Sports into the Pro Bowl Experience, a “fan’s festival of football”, and invited fans to watch practices, get player autographs and participate in interactive football activities. We will miss the Pro Bowl.
3. The state of Florida recorded another new daily high for COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with Osceola County reporting 18 of them, an elevated but not outrageous number for a single day.
But there was only one new virus-related hospitalization reported, and the Department of Health hasn’t linked a new death to Osceola County in over 10 days. Stats also show the number of available hospital beds and ICU units have remained steady since case numbers have increased in the last week. So, until otherwise told, we’re doing okay. For those who want to get tested, testing begins today through Friday at the Mary Jane Arrington Aquatic Center in Poinciana from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no cost or prerequisite for symptoms, but you must call for an appointment at 407-343-2000, and since the testing center is inside the building, wear a mask.
For a little more perspective, Osceola County now has 866 cases, that’s 16th in the state. It was as high as 11th in April. Osceola County is 17th in the state in population.
4. But here’s some good news: U.S. retail sales jumped 17.7 percent in May as many businesses re-opened.
In a sign that the U.S. economy may be recovering from the COVID-19 induced tailspin, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Tuesday morning that retail sales across the country increased 17.7 percent from April to May, after March and April set records for being just plain awful. In May, employers added 2.5 million jobs, an unexpected increase that suggested that the job market has bottomed out, or that furloughed workers counted as unemployed have returned to their original jobs.
One economist said what we’re going through right now “May very well be the shortest, but still deepest, recession ever.” If retail sales jump by an additional 9 percent in June, they could return to near the busy level from before the pandemic. So if you have any of that stimulus money left over, go buy something you need. If you don’t need anything, buy something you want!
5. And finally, SpaceX astronaut Bob Behnken will be taking a walk on the wild side, in space!
Behnken went up on the Crew Dragon flight on May 30 and reached the International Space Station the next day. He and fellow NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy are scheduled to go outside the ISS for spacewalks on June 26 and July 1 to replace the batteries for one of its power channels. They could be out there for as long as seven hours, and we’ll be able to watch them live on NASA Television.
As for the weather … Tuesday was warm and dry, and there will be a little bit more humidity today, but there’s still only a 30 percent chance of passing showers as we roll to a high of 89 degrees. Any clouds that build up during the day should clear out overnight, with a low around 71. Expect the chance of rain to go up as we get later in the week.