It has been just over one month since doctors and scientists discovered a new variant of the COVID-19 virus named Omicron, but the new variant has taken over as the leading strain of COVID across the globe. The Omicron variant is highly transmissible, and countries have seen their infection rates skyrocket. The United States has been hit incredibly hard, and many states, like Florida, are seeing record high numbers.
In the past few weeks, Florida has been seeing record COVID numbers, with the state reporting 39,000 new cases on Monday, December 27 alone. As with most states, certain counties are seeing a larger positivity rate than others, and one of the Florida counties being hit the hardest is Orange County. Orange County is home to some of the most popular theme parks in the world, including the Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.
Florida meteorologist Rusty McCraine — who reports for WFTV9 Orlando — recently tweeted some very troubling information regarding the positivity rate in Orange County, saying:
Dr. Tim Hendrix of Advent Health tells us the positivity rate of Covid testing yesterday in Orange County was 45%. It’s 39% across all of Central Florida. The positivity rate was around 5% two weeks ago.
Dr. Tim Hendrix of Advent Health tells us the positivity rate of Covid testing yesterday in Orange County was 45%. It's 39% across all of Central Florida. The positivity rate was around 5% two weeks ago.
— Rusty McCranie (@RMcCranieWFTV) December 28, 2021
While the positivity rate is near an all-time high, we do not yet know how many of those who tested positive were admitted to the hospital. According to doctors and scientists, those who catch the Omicron variant, but have been vaccinated and received their booster shot, appear to have primarily mild symptoms that are reminiscent of a cold. The unvaccinated still remain at a high risk of hospitalization if they catch Omicron or other COVID variants like Delta.
Both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World Resort do not require proof of vaccination to enter their theme parks. They also do not require Guests to wear masks while outdoors, but both Resorts do require masks at all indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status. Walt Disney World has required masks at indoor locations for months, but Universal Orlando only recently made that change.