Osceola County health and government leaders reiterated Friday the same thing that the state COVID-19 stats show: the virus is still very present in our community.
The county is up to 960 reported cases since the first surfaced March 13. That’s about 200 over the last 10 days, as Osceola has seen an increase that mimics the state’s over the last week. Nine of the 23 coronavirus-related deaths reported are come from long-term care facilities.
Locally, the 20-34 age group has seen an increase in cases, and the median age for new cases reported in Osceola County the last 14 days is 27 years old.
While case numbers go up in Osceola County mirroring the spike across the state, Florida Department of Health in Osceola County Director Vianca McCluskey said those younger patients have fewer outcomes that require a hospital stay, so the percentage of cases needing hospitalizations is slightly lower, and that area hospitals are reporting no significant impacts with the spike in COVID-19 cases.
The Health Department has identified outbreaks in some households and businesses within the county, McCkuskey said. She also noted that testing is way up, especially thus far this month.
“We’ve tested 5,200 just this month (June), which is more than we did in April,” she said. “We should eclipse our total for May, too.”
The county’s testing capability expands next wee when Sunrise Pharmacy in Kissimmee will begin testing Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointments are required; call 407-434-4434 to schedule testing.
Beyond that, the message is that if people can do the small things like washing hands frequently, maintaining six-foot distancing and, most importantly, following the county mandate to wear a face covering in place since April that Orange County put in place Thursday, this spread can be greatly slowed.
“The masks are not a punishment or political statement. They are a public health safety precaution,” County Commission Chair Viviana Janer said Friday. “Yes, they can get hot. I carry three with me and change them out through the day. But it’s an important measure, and only works if everyone takes part. I’m proud of our community who are doing their part to take responsibility. Those who don’t will make the end of this crisis be farther out than any of us want it to be.”
On Monday, the County Commission will meet for a fourth time in June, to decide how to spend $16.3 in federal CARES Act funds that the state of Florida has finally dispersed. Janer has said adding to the rental and mortgage assistance, small business assistance and funds to fight food insecurity the county has already provided. Go to Osceola.org to find the form to fill out to give input on that process.
Janer noted unemployment in Osceola County is now 31.1 percent, the highest among counties in the state of Florida, so plenty of help and assistance are still needed.