Demand for COVID-19 testing ramps up ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

After demand was so high for COVID-19 testing on Thursday, the Orange County Convention Center had to shut down early. The center reopened Friday.

There were so many cars in line waiting to be tested that the site closed the gate so that they could be sure to test each person waiting in line by closing time. 

Free COVID-19 testing is ramping up across Orange County as the positivity rate is on the rise.

Officials are urging families to keep Thanksgiving gatherings small and are reminding folks to continue to wear face masks as much as possible around those vulnerable and elderly populations.

RELATED: CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel as COVID-19 cases spike

Health officials say they know not everyone will follow the guidelines. 

Orange County epidemiologist Alvina Chu asked some people if they will wear masks over the holidays. 

"The one guy was like 'absolutely not. It’s my family. Why would I even consider doing that?' And then the other guy was like 'absolutely I will because I don’t want to kill my grandma.'"

The Orange County Health Department says the age groups spreading the virus at the highest rate are those between 15 and 34. Officials are cracking down on businesses by sending strike teams in to evaluate whether they are following pandemic safety protocols.

While Mayor Jerry Demings says he does not plan to shut down businesses, he does not want to see it get to that point. 

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis expects first COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in Florida within 3 to 6 weeks

Starting December 1, Orange County will once again give away free personal protective equipment to businesses that includes disposable face masks and hand sanitizers.