Is the mask mandate in Osceola County actually curbing COVID-19 cases?
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Several counties in Florida are throwing around the idea of mandating face masks. Osceola County has had one for a while now, but is it working? FOX 35 investigates.
Osceola County's recent spike in cases may not seem as extreme as some other counties. FOX 35 Orlando uncovered data though that shows that things may be worse in Osceola County, even with the mask mandate.
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When you walk around Kissimmee, it's a mixed bag of people wearing masks and not wearing masks. However, in Osceola County, everyone should be wearing a mask, as the county mandated masks in public in April. But a few days after putting it in place, officials adjusted the mandate, removing the $500 penalty and the possibility of jail time. So it's really up to individuals to decide whether or not to wear a mask.
Like so many other Florida counties, Osceola County is currently seeing a spike in COVID cases. Jeremy Lanier with the Department of Health in Osceola County said that the cases are increasing "most notably in the age range 20 to 34. And this increase -- we’ve seen this increase as we’ve tested more people in our community."
According to the COVID dashboard, Osceola County on Wednesday had 22 COVID cases. That is much lower than the 139 cases in Orange County, but Orange County has tested nearly five times as many people.
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While looking at positivity rates, FOX 35 Orlando found that despite the mask mandate, Osceola County has a positivity rate of 4.5 percent, compared to Orange County's 3.6 percent. Lanier added that the percent positive is the number we need to focus on."
Osceola County health officials are pushing for the mandate to be followed. Yet, some residents wear masks and others do not. Restaurant workers have even admitted that it is hard to enforce the rule when people are eating and drinking.
Lanier wants people to know though that "the use of these cloth face coverings is working. The most important thing to remember is that COVID-19 has not gone away. It’s still here."
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The positivity rates for each county in Central Florida are still lower than the state's rate, which is hovering around 5.5 percent.
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