ORLANDO, Fla. - Orange County leaders are considering relaxing rules about masks and social distancing that have been in place for over a year.
The county is currently assessing vaccination rates. Officials on Monday said that half of those ages 40 and older have already received the vaccine. More than 26% of the county's total population have received the vaccine, according to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Demings said the county is also looking at infection rates and will continue to take guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which have been evolving during this whole time, he said.
When it does happen, it will be a phased approach based on the indoor and outdoor capacity of various locations.
The mask mandate has been in effect in Orange County for more than a year now. The mayor isn’t looking to drop it altogether, but to loosen it.
"We are reviewing how CDC requirements are evolving along with COVID infection data and a plan will be announced soon," Demings added.
The county is also looking at loosening restrictions at outdoor venues and restaurants.
Just as there was debate over whether to adopt mask mandates, there’s now debate over whether to adapt them.
"I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s been a year. I think the vaccines are pretty available at this point. I think it’s a good idea," said Parker Cooper, who lives in Orlando.
"I’m fully vaccinated but I care about the other citizens of Orange County..there is that small risk so I’m not interested in meeting unmasked with people that I don’t know if they’ve been vaccinated," said Dillon McLean, who lives in Orlando.
No specific timeframe was given but a more detailed plan will be released in the coming weeks.
Seminole and Osceola counties still have their mask mandates in place. There have been some discussions, but there’s been no forward movement on changing them in those counties.
In other highlights from Monday's briefing, officials said the 14-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 in Orange County 7%. Testing is still important, health officials added, and free COVID-19 testing is available at ocfl.net/testing.
The Orange County Convention Center vaccination site run by the Florida Department of Health in Orange County is currently booked for appointments.
Thanks to a partnership with Orange County Government and the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, on Friday, April 16, 2021, AdventHealth is offering the COVID-19 vaccine for residents 16 years old and up. This site will offer the Pfizer brand vaccination (4,600 appointments total). A consent form for individuals under 18 years old is required and a parent/guardian must be present with a minor. Online appointments are required, no walk-ups will be accommodated. Visit ocfl.net/vaccine to schedule.
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