New economic impact of COVID-19: conventions canceled in Orlando
As Florida continues to grapple with what the Orange County mayor jerry deming called “its worst public health crisis since the start of the coronavirus pandemic”, economic shocks are starting to hit the heart of the tourism sector again.
Four other major conventions scheduled for the Orange County Convention Center pulled out, including one that was expected to bring 10,000 members of the North American Food Equipment Manufacturers Association to Orlando by the end of this month, Demings said Tuesday.
Together, the four show cancellations are expected to cost Orange County $43.9 million in economic impact, Demings said.
Last week, Demings announced the cancellation from another showwhich he says represents a loss of $12-15 million to the community.
“As Florida faces its worst public health crisis since the coronavirus pandemic began nearly 18 months ago, we have continued to see, now and for the foreseeable future, at least this month’s reminder these, canceled shows,” Demings said.
He and other county officials, however, expressed more concern Thursday for the public health impact of the summer surge of COVID-19, rather than the economic impact.
The county has averaged more than 1,000 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases each day lately.
The county opened a second public drive-through testing site on Tuesday. The county’s positive test rate continues to climb, surpassing 20% for tests administered in the past 14 days. The new site, at the Econlockhatcheee football grounds on the east side, and the county’s other site, at Barnett Park on the west side, are both operating at or near capacity, administering about 3,000 tests a day between them.
dr. Raul PinoOrange County health official for the Florida Department of Health said 15 new deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 since the last press conference Monday. Orange County has confirmed 45 COVID-19 deaths that occurred in July, down from 31 in June, he said.
“If the pandemic continues to behave as it has behaved in the past, we should continue to see an increase in hospitalizations next week, and we should continue to see an increase in deaths,” said pino.
He noted that it takes about two weeks for the increase in emergency room visits and hospitalizations to lead to an increase in deaths.
“We suspect the next two weeks are going to be difficult,” he said.
Pino offered two hope points.
First, the curve of the new cases graph, although still rising, is flattening out a bit, suggesting a slowing of the outbreak. However, he said it was too early to make much of it.
Second, Orange County’s vaccination rate has steadily increased, about 200 to 300 more vaccinations per day than the day before on most days. The more people vaccinated, the fewer hospitalizations and deaths can be expected, he said.
Currently, 63.4% of all Orange County residents eligible for vaccination have received at least one shot, he said.
Demings extended his executive order declaring a state of emergency for the county an additional seven days.
Demings praised local employers for pushing for masks and vaccinations. He said the county, local authorities and employers are doing all they can.
He said he would like more resources from the state, including to open a third testing site.
“I am not aware of any additional resources offered by the state at this stage. We were pretty much left to our own ingenuity to figure it out for ourselves,” he said. “But we would certainly welcome any help from the state in this regard.”