KEY POINTS

  • Mayor Demings urged residents and amusement park visitors to wear face masks indoors as the county battles the “crisis”
  • Demings also encouraged business owners to require employees to get vaccinated
  • Orange County is home to Disney World, which has since reversed its recent mask policy of not requiring guests to wear masks indoors

Orange County, Florida, has been placed in a state of emergency after it witnessed the highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic. A mask mandate may also be issued in the coming weeks should cases continue to climb, authorities said.

The Florida county, comprising 1.3 million people, is home to Disney World and other popular theme parks.

Mayor Jerry L. Demings issued an executive order Wednesday declaring the emergency. He also urged both residents and theme park visitors to wear masks when indoors, regardless if they are vaccinated or not, Business Insider reported. Demings’ order came after at least 1,371 people tested COVID-19 positive Tuesday, marking a record high.

The order also stated that the 14-day positive test rate in Orange County is now more than 15%, up from less than 4.3% at the end of June.

Earlier this week, Demings said during a media briefing that “a thousand a day is extraordinary,” adding that the county is “now in crisis mode.” He urged residents to cooperate with the local government in slowing down the spread of the virus.

Demings also spoke about a health concern regarding the slow pace of vaccination drives in the county, CNN reported. The mayor said that so far, 61.59 percent of residents aged 12 and above have received at least one shot.

According to data shared by the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, 52.64% of Orange County's population has been fully vaccinated. The national vaccination rate stands at 49.4%.

As part of the efforts to hopefully reduce new cases across the county, Demings encouraged businesses to issue mandates on coronavirus vaccines for employees. Orange County has required all local government employees to be inoculated by the end of next month, local newspaper The West Orange Times & Observer reported.

Meanwhile, there are also increasing concerns about eased restrictions in theme parks around the county, which is home to Universal Studios Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World.

Among the restrictions that the two theme parks recently lifted were the use of face masks for vaccinated guests as well as temperature checks. Disney stated on its website that guests are urged to “keep a safe distance between travel parties” but it did not mandate guests to observe social distancing.

But after Demings’ call on businesses to mandate vaccinations, Disney World announced late Wednesday that guests will be required to wear masks on indoor settings around the park, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Children aged 2 and below are not required to wear face coverings.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that Orange County is a “high-transmission” area. The county has logged more than 281,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 5,143 deaths since the pandemic started.

Disneyland Park -- the world's second-most visited theme park -- and neighboring Disney California Adventure Park have finally reopened Disneyland Park -- the world's second-most visited theme park -- and neighboring Disney California Adventure Park have finally reopened Photo: AFP / VALERIE MACON