Orange County mayor considering mask mandate for some businesses as COVID-19 cases rise

Orange County officials say they are considering requiring masks inside some businesses to try and slow the spread of coronavirus.

Orange County has seen a sharp increase in new cases recently.

On Sunday, 186 confirmed cases were reported, which is the highest one-day increase since the pandemic started.

Health officials say the positivity rate in the county is 5.9 percent.

It was 2.8 percent two weeks ago.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” said Mayor Jerry Demings. “Obviously, we don’t like the numbers.”

Local leaders are pleading with people to get back to following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. 

“Some places seem to be doing social distancing pretty well. Other places definitely not so much,” said Orange County resident Allison Gordon.

“I don’t really think that they were as diligent as people in other states,” said Mila Khalitova.

Demings says he does not want to issue a countywide mask mandate, but he’s considering making them a requirement in certain businesses.

He says there have been outbreaks in bars and nightclubs.

“Places where people are enclosed and you stay for more than 15 minutes, those are risky environments, especially if you have a high concentration of people in a small place. And bars and restaurants are a perfect example of that,” said Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County’s health officer.

Demings says he’s watching the numbers closely and consulting with health experts as he decides what to do next.

He says the county may be forced to slow down the reopening if two things happen.

“We would see double-digit increases day over day, and number two, we would exceed the capacity of our local hospital systems. If those two things happen, then we're gonna have to make some drastic changes,” Demings told FOX 35.

As of right now, officials say hospitalizations are only up slightly.

That could be because more young people are testing positive and are experiencing less severe symptoms.