Confirmed coronavirus cases now at 21,019 as Florida expands COVID-19 testing criteria

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Orange County cases surpass 1,000

The Florida Department of Health reports there are 21,019 people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the state as of Monday evening — 418 more confirmed cases than reported earlier in the day.

On Monday, the FDOH reported 499 fatalities from the coronavirus, with each county in Central Florida reporting at least two deaths related to the disease.

FDOH reports that there are 2,841 total hospitalizations in the state.

The FDOH numbers do not show how many people have recovered from the virus. Department officials have declined to release that information after several requests from News 6. Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino said coronavirus patients must test negative twice in 24 hours before leaving isolation.

Testing for COVID-19 continues throughout the state, and some testing sites are making changes to operations as confirmed cases of the disease continues to climb.

The Orange County Convention Center will start issuing 400 coronavirus tests a day, and as of Monday, will become a state-operated site run by the Florida Department of Emergency Management, according to a news release. Prior to this change, the site was run by the Department of Health and Human Services and FEMA.

A spokesperson for the testing site at the convention center told News 6 that by 9 a.m., 68 cars were already lined up for testing procedures. While this number may seem low, healthcare professionals are prepared to treat multiple people in a single vehicle, and officials remind individuals wishing to be tested to arrive at the site early, as a shorter line of waiting vehicles may be deceiving.

As of the site closing Sunday, the Orange County Convention Center testing site had completed 4,963 to date since opening on March 25.

In a further effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, officials in Osceola County have mandated that as of Monday, everyone must now wear a face covering when venturing outside.

“It’s not meant to be a punishment. We’re doing this to stop the spread of this virus,” Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said.

Officials said the requirement will remain in effect until the county deems face coverings as no longer needed.

Initially, offenders could face a hefty fine or jail time but leaders in Osceola County said Monday afternoon that they won’t be enforcing the mandate.

On Monday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he won’t force Orange County residents to wear face masks in public, although they should do so because it could help save lives.

He also said that based on current data, Orange County’s curve could be flattening, although more information is needed. That news came as officials announced five new mobile testing sites in the region.

Florida’s surgeon general also said that statewide numbers seem to suggest that the number of COVID-19 cases is stabilizing but it’s too soon for residents to let their guards down.

by Erin Dobrzyn (Click Orlando)

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