borders the north side of the UCF campus.
UCF has reported 78 cases linked to the university, nearly all of them from students. Nearly three-quarters of those cases have been reported since June 1, including 20 during the past week alone.
“Many of the cases involve students whose social outings have overlapped,” spokesman Chad Binette said in an e-mail. “The vast majority of the cases have involved students who are either asymptomatic or experienced only minor symptoms.”
Those numbers led alarmed Seminole officials to move the scheduled “pop up” test site from Lake Mary to Carillon Elementary because of the large number of young adults who live in the area near campus.
County health officials said at least some of the new cases there among young people can be tied to nearby bars and restaurants.
The Knight’s Pub, a bar across from the UCF campus, closed shortly after reopening after a patron reported symptoms, the owner confirmed to the Sentinel.
“People are getting together,” said Donna Walsh, Seminole officer for the Florida Department of Health. “And when you come close together, and you don’t practice social distancing, and you don’t wear a mask, it’s likely that the respiratory droplets and the virus will spread.”
To lure young adults to get tested, county officials offered free masks and $10 food vouchers that can be redeemed at most grocery stores.
Alan Harris, Seminole’s emergency management director, said he was “shocked, but in a good way” at the large number of people who showed up to get tested. Although, most people who are tested do not have the virus, the idea is to find those individuals who test positive so they can be isolated.
Even people who don’t show symptoms can spread the virus to others.
“It is our hope that we will identify anyone who is sick in this area and prevent the spread of the virus and decrease the numbers from going up anymore,” Harris said.
Richard Tunno, of Oviedo, waited in his car along Lockwood Boulevard to get tested. He was not sick.
However, he plans to his visit his elderly father in
Pittsburgh next week and wants to make sure he’s not carrying the virus.
“I just want to make sure I’m safe,” said Tunno.
At a similar testing site in Orlando at the Engelwood Neighborhood Center near Semoran Boulevard, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he hoped residents would return to wearing masks in public.
Wednesday, state data showed 11.9% of 1,154 tests conducted in Orange County came back positive the day prior, the highest percentage since April 8 and the fifth highest rate of positives the county has seen since March 20.
“I don’t just base [the rise in cases] on the fact that we’re doing more testing,” Dyer said. “The percentage of positive tests have gone up.”
Data released Wednesday showed higher positive rates across Central Florida. Lake County, which reported 54 new cases Tuesday, had a positive rate of 11.7%, its highest percentage since at least April 17. Lake County is also dealing with an outbreak at its jail, where officials have said 100 inmates and staff have tested positive.
Seminole added 40 new cases on Wednesday with 10.7% of tests returning positive and Osceola found 22 new positive cases with 8.5% of tests returning positive.
In all, Florida reported 2,610 new cases Wednesday, with the statewide death toll eclipsing 3,000. In Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola, 99 people have died since the start of the pandemic.
“We do know that wearing masks helps curtail the spread of the virus,” Dyer said. “I don’t know how it’s gotten political in wearing masks. It’s just sensible advice from our healthcare professionals. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue one way or another.”
Despite the rising number of positive cases, Seminole and Orange officials said they have no plans yet to enact new social distancing or stay-at-home orders. The key, Harris said, is to educate people to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands.
“Seminole county continues to believe that we can rebuild the economy and be safe at the exact same time,” Harris said. “These are not mutually exclusive concepts. They can be done together.”
A patient drives up to a testing site recently.