Hundreds of essential workers in Central Florida out with COVID-19

Orange County says hundreds of county employees are isolated right now with COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Orange County Fire Rescue had 47 people out after testing positive, down slightly from Tuesday.  They tell FOX 35 News the worst they have seen throughout the pandemic was about 60 at a time.

"Our experience is almost exactly what you see in the community," said Chief Mike Wajda from Orange County Fire Rescue. "So, when the community infection rises, it rises here as well."

Chief Wajda oversees staffing for Fire Rescue.

While he says so far, the absences have not affected their response to emergencies, firefighters are having to work overtime, sometimes with back-to-back 24 hours shifts.

"I am just so proud of the work our firefighters have done over the last two years, they have truly been on the front lines," Wajda said.

In neighboring Seminole County, the fire department has 41 of its staff of 450 out with COVID-19. In smaller counties like Alachua, the numbers are smaller but could have a bigger impact. They worry about services being impacted if cases get much worse.

"If you have entire crews that can’t get to their equipment and go out to respond to emergencies, that’s our biggest concern, so we’re monitoring that very closely," Mark Sexton, a spokesperson for Alachua County.

Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.