Orange County COVID-19 positivity rate crosses 40%

During a regular coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings revealed that the 7-day positivity rate in the county is north of 40%.

The astronomical positivity rate dwarfs previous records and is eight times as high at the one-time benchmark for reopening the county safely.

While Omicron appears to be a much milder variant of coronavirus in terms of fatalities, the long-term effects of contracting the virus are still unknown. And more infections means more opportunities for the virus to mutate yet again. Researchers at the University of Florida predicted that as much as 80% of Floridians will have been infected by the end of this current surge. Wastewater tests in Seminole County's Altamonte Springs recently found a 70% positivity rate for those that were on the sewer system.

Due to the outbreak, Demings encouraged masking and social distancing, though laws passed by the state of Florida have turned such moves into mere suggestions.

"Four out of 10 people in our community are testing positive," Demings said. "We have thousands of tests here that are being done here within this county, and that’s a staggering number."

Demings also countered the notion out of Tallahassee that residents should stop getting tested for COVID-19 in large numbers.

"Some people say well, why are you doing all this testing? If you're one of those people who feel or believe that you've been exposed until you know your status, you can't have any internal peace," Demings said.

There is some hope. Demings revealed that recent wastewater tests showed a marked drop in positivity of Orange County residents on the sewer system. It will take time and further testing to determine whether this is a sign of a declining surge.

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