Florida county that’s home to Disney World declares ‘state of emergency’ over surge in the Delta variant


John Raoux/AP

The central Florida county that is home to Disney World and 1.3 million people is now in a state of emergency after experiencing the largest single-day number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings signed an executive order on Wednesday declaring the emergency, which could be the first step toward issuing a new mask mandate. For now, though, face coverings are only being encouraged as part of an effort to avoid another shutdown.

“I urge our residents and visitors – vaccinated and unvaccinated – to wear a mask while indoors,” Demings said in a statement.

According to the executive order, the 14-day positive test rate in Orange County is now more than 15{8a924211cc822977802140fcd9ee67aa8e3c0868cac8d22acbf0be98ed6534bd}, up from less than 4.3{8a924211cc822977802140fcd9ee67aa8e3c0868cac8d22acbf0be98ed6534bd} at the end of June.

Approximately 1,371 people tested positive on July 27, a record high. Wastewater monitoring indicates there has been a “substantial increase” in COVID-19 amid the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

Just over half of Orange County’s population, or 52.6{8a924211cc822977802140fcd9ee67aa8e3c0868cac8d22acbf0be98ed6534bd}, has been fully vaccinated, according to data collected by the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. The national vaccination rate is 49.4{8a924211cc822977802140fcd9ee67aa8e3c0868cac8d22acbf0be98ed6534bd}.

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