ORLANDO, Fla. - The Director of the Florida Health Department in Orange County, Dr. Raul Pino, became a household name as he brought the county the latest information during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For months, Dr. Pino led Orange County's coronavirus briefings, as he brought the public the latest information and helping to ease worries in Orange County households. Since then, Dr. Pino says people stop him in restaurants, on the street, and just about everywhere he goes. It's a recognition that he never expected.
"I don’t have a private life anymore," said Dr. Pino. "People are watching. People are watching enough to recognize from your glasses or your voice that means that they’re listening."
Dr. Pino was born in Cuba in 1963.
"Our family was very poor when the revolution started. So, they are not lawyers or doctors or anyone like that. My family was farmers," said Dr. Pino.
Dr. Pino graduated from the University of Havana with a Doctorate in Medicine. Later, he graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine with a Master of Public Health degree. In 2015, Dr. Pino became the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health before making his way to Orlando to work the Florida Department of Health. Now, one of the most familiar faces of 2020 in Orange County.
"People look for leadership. Someone to follow and to listen to and accidentally because of the pandemic I was in that place," said Dr. Pino. "It became important to me to listen to what people’s concerns were on the streets. What their questions were, what their fears were."
Dr. Pino not only speaks in English but also Spanish during the press conferences, which allows him to reach more of the Orange County community.
"When you hear in your own language it makes a huge difference," said Dr. Pino.
In his free time, you'll find Dr. Pino gardening or at the beach with his two kids. Dr. Pino is thankful to be a voice in the Orange County community during such uncertain times.
"I have felt so welcome in Orlando," said Dr. Pino. "It could be the pandemic, it could be that I’m Latino and the first Latino to take this position, it could be many things, but I’ve never been welcomed in any place like I've been welcomed here."