Orange County leaders say birthday parties contribute to increase in COVID cases

Orange County leaders say the positivity rate is creeping up and one thing to blame is birthday parties.

“I want to discourage parents from having birthday parties for kids,” said Orange Co. Health Office Dr. Raul Pino.

To back up his argument, he points to a gathering earlier this month in Avalon Park.  

“We know that it was a Sweet 16. We know about 30 kids participated from more than one high school … some sport team members,” Pino explained. And he says half of the people there got COVID 19.  “We actually were surprised of how quickly these cases came up, how fast and how many cases.”

Over the last few days, Orange County health officials say the positivity rate has been steadily rising. The latest daily number for new cases was 317, one of the biggest jumps in several weeks.

RELATED: Is Florida considering not releasing daily COVID-19 numbers?

Experts cautioning that those parties can affect a much larger population.

“We certainly know that community events based on what the Department of Health has told us has been tied the cases in the school. They were community spread, not school spread,” said Orange County Public Schools spokesman Scott Howat.

Howat wouldn’t tie any particular school changes to that birthday party. However, Timber Creek High School and Avalon Park Elementary School recently moved students to online learning.

“Anything that happens in the community will be taken into our school -- in a very densely populated area where it can spread quickly and we want to prevent that,” Howat said.

Health officials say if you have to throw a birthday party - do it outside and with all of the proper safety measures.