Politics

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings criticizes Gov. DeSantis for COVID response 

The mayor of Orange County, Florida criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s uptick in recent coronavirus cases. Democratic Mayor Jerry Demings said on Tuesday that counties have not been given enough funding from the state for virus testing as the omicron variant has risen in prevalence.

“We have not received any assistance from the state of Florida at our testing sites,” Demings said during the press conference. “Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged and they should ask the question, ‘Where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?’”

The Republican governor has not held COVID-19 briefing since December 17. In his last briefing, he appeared with Surgeon General to promote an AstraZeneca-developed monoclonal antibody therapy.

Demings also reinstated a mask mandate on Tuesday for all county employees who are working in person. “To protect our employees and those who use our services, they’ll be wearing masks for the forseeable future,” he said. 

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health responded to Florida’s COVID-19 measures, saying containment efforts have changed from a statewide approach to more locally led policies.

“As of today, as a result of the collaboration between the Department of Health in Orange County and the Orange County government, there are no unmet resource requests – from municipalities, hospitals or private practices,” wrote Weesam Khoury, the spokesperson. 

Demings announced that a third county COVID-19 testing site would be opened, although health officials claimed it would still be unable to satisfy the demand for tests.

“If we opened five sites, the five sites would be full and have two-hour waiting times,” said Raul Pino, the director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County. On Monday, the county administered over 10,000 tests, recording 2,500 positive results, which Demings said set new pandemic records. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: ORLANDO WEEKLY

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