Orange County Residents Ordered to Stay Home to Fight the Spread of Coronavirus
The residents of Orange County, Florida are under orders to remain at home starting on Thursday, March 26, to help stop the spread of coronavirus, with limited exceptions for when residents can leave their home. The order by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings applies to the more than 1.3 million residents who live in the county, which includes the city of Orlando. The official Stay At Home order was set to begin on Thursday at 11 p.m. and cover the 13 municipalities in Orange County. It was an unprecedented step in a state that hasn’t seen a serious health pandemic since the 1918 influenza epidemic.
Why Did Mayor Jerry Demings Issue a Stay At Home Order?
Part of Mayor Demings’ goal was to prevent the county’s medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed with new cases. Less than a month ago, the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Florida, and the numbers quickly climbed to 1,700 cases, which includes 22 deaths statewide. Orange County has developed the highest number of reported cases in Central Florida, 77.
Demings said his order was intended to slow the spread of this illness since there are more than 440,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and the numbers keep rising. At a news conference on March 24 outlining the executive order, Demings noted that “The order means the entire county will be asked to stay at home as much as possible, with exceptions to businesses that are deemed as essential.”
He added that taking these steps is likely to prove beneficial in the fight against coronavirus.
“If we go through the pain of doing this for the next few weeks, we should see positive results,” Demings said. “We want to get in front of any kind of surge that negatively impacts the ability of our hospitals to be able to care for all of our community. This is why it’s urgent to take the actions we have taken today.”
What Does the Stay At Home Order Mean for County Residents?
Residents are being asked to leave their homes only to conduct “essential business.” The definition of that includes:
- Trips to work
- Buying food or other groceries
- Visiting your pharmacy for prescription refills
- Going to a medical appointment
- Going outside to exercise
- Ordering and picking up take out food
The order lasts through April 9 at 11 p.m.
County leaders said “essential” businesses will be allowed to stay open, including:
- Medical and Healthcare providers
- Grocery stores
- Gas stations
- Daycare centers
- Media outlets
- Hardware and home improvement stores
Businesses that don’t meet that definition are considered non-essential, and they’re being ordered to temporarily close. That includes movie theaters and shopping malls. The fine for violating this Stay At Home order is up to $50, and jail time is possible, although Orange County Sheriff John Mina has said he hopes people obey the order and that he doesn’t need to use this order to make arrests.
Neighboring Osceola County, just south of Orlando, is also considering a Stay At Home order for county residents. Osceola County includes the cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud and the communities of Celebration and Poinciana. The cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg are doing the same, and similar orders are in effect in other parts of Florida, including Alachua County and Miami Beach.
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