Orange County officials attribute rise in COVID cases to small gatherings

More than 5,000 new coronavirus cases were reported Friday. That's higher compared to where we were earlier in the week and at the start of Phase 3.

Orange County officials are keeping their eyes on COVID cases as they continue to rise statewide and throughout the county.

"The rise in cases is in multiple communities and an overall increase and part of that has to do with people who are having private events," said Florida Department of Health in Orange County Epidemiology Program Manager Alvina Chu.

There were more than 6,000 new cases statewide Thursday and more than 5,000 reported Friday. Three-hundred thirty-four of those new cases Friday were in Orange County alone.

Health officials attribute the rise to people becoming more lax about following precautions.

"There are so-called hot spots in a lot of places and it’s not necessarily bc of a single event or a single outbreak. as I mentioned it’s sort of people relaxing or letting up on the good pandemic precautions," said Chu.

Mayor Jerry Demings says the Emergency Operations Center has daily calls within the state and region to keep on top of the spread. Plus, "we have now a biweekly call of the leadership teams from the surrounding counties to talk about our mutual responses," said Demings. 

Officials say it would be premature to call the increase in cases a resurgence, but admit it is concerning especially as we head to the holidays when many families and friends gather in small and large groups. "It’s unclear right now where we might be headed if it’s sharp or slow," said Chu.

Officials recommend that people continue to wear masks when they get together, social distance, and gather in small groups over large groups. They also say it's a good idea to get tested before gathering with other people.