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Coronavirus News


April 3, 2021

Orange County Convention Center vaccination appointments fill up; FEMA sites open including on Easter Sunday

On April 1, Orange County vaccinated its 500,000th person as the state begins inoculations of individuals as young as 16 on Monday. In fact, within an hour after the Orange County Convention Center’s portal opened Friday, all vaccine appointments — more than 9,000 — were booked there for the next week.

Fortunately, there are other sites where people can go to get inoculated. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has two sites — open seven days a week, including Easter Sunday, April 4  — where no appointments are necessary and doses are administered on a first-come, first-serve basis until the daily supply is exhausted.

  • Valencia College West Campus (1800 S. Kirkman Road) is open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., seven days a week. Doses are expected to be exhausted by mid-afternoon. The site is expected to remain open until May 26. For more information, visit the Florida Disaster’s webpage.

  • Orange County Library—South Trail Branch (4600 S. Orange Blossom Trail) is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., or until daily supply is exhausted. The site is open seven days a week, as well.

Covid-19 testing

Free coronavirus testing at Barnett Park (4801 W Colonial Drive) and at the Orange County Convention Center will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 4, but will resume Monday. The two sites will remain open seven days a week through the end of April.

There are many other places that offer Covid-19 testing in Central Florida including clinics, pharmacies, private labs and Orlando International Airport. Check here for details.

April 3, 2021

Fully vaccinated individuals are largely safe to travel, says CDC

If you’re fully vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine, you can travel safely across the United States, according to new information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said Friday that people who are fully vaccinated — meaning it’s been at least two weeks since getting a second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine — don’t need to get tested nor need to self-quarantine. Those traveling internationally will need a negative Covid-19 test before they can return home.

The national public health agency advises everyone to wait until they are fully vaccinated and, even then, they should still wear a mask, avoid crowds, observe social distancing and wash their hands often or use hand sanitizer.

On Friday, the White House Covid-19 Response Team said that nearly 100 million Americans have received at least one dose and that more than 56 million people are fully vaccinated.

People who are not fully vaccinated but must travel should get tested for the coronavirus one to three days before a trip, said the CDC, and still wear masks, social distance and wash hands. Three to five days after a trip, they should get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days, even if the test is negative. For those who decide not to get tested, the CDC said people should isolate at home for 10 days after travel.

Travel has ticked up across the U.S. including at airports. The Transportation Security Administration screened 1,562,239 travelers at U.S. airports Thursday, up from the 124,021 screened a year ago. Still, Thursday’s figure is well below the 2.4 million people who traveled on the same day in 2019.

April 3, 2021

CDC extends eviction moratorium through June 30; Orange County continues to help past-due renters

The federal government has extended, through June 30, a ban on evictions of tenants unable to pay rent because of the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing possible relief to millions of Americans, including Orange County residents.

The eviction moratorium was set to expire March 31 until Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signed the extension earlier this week. It marks the third time the agency has extended the order, which first went into effect in September.

The CDC’s order said that a Census survey found that more than 4 million people who are late on rent could be “at imminent risk of eviction.” It said that if those people were evicted it “would be unprecedented in modern times,” resulting in them being at a high risk of Covid-19 by moving into shared housing or becoming homeless.

In a March 15 letter, a coalition of 2,000 national and multistate organizations — including more than 70 Florida organizations — urged President Biden and other top administration officials to extend the moratorium. The letter said evictions that occurred at the beginning of the pandemic last year until the moratorium was in place last September led to more than 400,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 11,000 deaths

The letter said that one in five renters, many of whom are disproportionately Black and Latino, are behind in rent and collectively owe $57 billion in back rent.

In Orange County, residents must file paperwork with their landlords for the federal program (read county’s FAQs). The county’s own federally funded, income-based rental assistance program, which is distributing $33 million to residents, may provide up to $10,000 or 12 months of past-due rent. 

Residents who live in unincorporated Orange County, Apopka, Bay Lake, Belle Isle, Eatonville, Edgewood, Lake Buena Vista, Oakland, Maitland, Ocoee, Windermere, Winter Garden and Winter Park are eligible for the program.

People living within the city of Orlando are eligible for only its federally funded emergency rental assistance program, not the county’s.

March 26, 2021

All Florida residents age 18 and up will become eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccine by April 5

Beginning Monday, all Florida residents age 40 and older will be eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. The following Monday, April 5, it will then be  offered to everyone 18 and up, according to new guidelines announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Currently, only people age 50 and older are eligible to get a shot.

The state’s eligibility change follows Orange County’s move (read related VoxPopuli story) to lower the age to 40 earlier this week. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava had also announced last week that her county would begin vaccinating residents age 40 and up beginning March 29.

Additionally, the Salvation Army Orlando will offer vaccines Saturday at a pop-up site located at its men’s shelter, 624 Lexington Ave., Orlando 32801, from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. No appointment is necessary but only people age 50 and above are eligible.

March 18, 2021

Orange County residents 40 and older can make an appointment to get a Covid-19 vaccine starting Monday

Beginning Monday at 9 a.m., Orange County residents between the ages of  40-59 can register for Covid-19 vaccine appointments at the Orange County Convention Center’s drive-thru site, county Mayor Jerry Demings said at a press conference Thursday. Appointments can be made through the county’s Covid-19 Vaccine Information site: Residents can get their shots without leaving their car at the convention center, which is open six days a week. Up to 3,000 doses per day can be administered at the site,

Demings said that 57 percent of people 60 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine. That number goes up to 67 percent of residents 65 and older. Overall, 15 percent of all Orange County residents have received at least one shot. “We are making remarkable progress,” said Demings, adding that the coronavirus remains a threat. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 119,224 cases have been reported in Orange County with 1,158 deaths, according to the mayor.

March 8, 2021

Fully vaccinated for Covid-19? CDC offers guidance on what you can start doing again

We are getting closer to pre-pandemic life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Whether you get the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer regiment or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, the CDC said Monday that you can safely gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people — or even indoors with unvaccinated people of the same household  — without masks or social distancing. "If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms," it said in the guidance

However, the CDC cautioned if you live in a group home or correctional or detention facility or around someone with Covid-19, then you should stay away from others for 14 days and get tested whether you show symptoms or not.

Previous reports indicated that it takes about two weeks after the final dose to be fully vaccinated so the body has time to develop antibodies.

The CDC said the vaccines are effective for preventing Covid-19 — especially severe disease and death. Researchers are still learning about vaccine effectiveness against variants; early data show it works well against some variants but less so against others. The agency stressed that fully vaccinated people should still wear masks and physically distance in public and when visiting someone with an increased health risk for getting the virus. The CDC also said it's still wise to avoid crowded areas and poorly ventilated spaces and to delay domestic and international travel, if possible.

March 8, 2021

Windermere CVS is only area CVS with Johnson & Johnson's one-shot Covid-19 vaccine

The CVS store in Windermere (2831 Maguire Road, Windermere, FL 34786) is the only CVS within the West Orange area offering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A store employee said last week that there were other CVS stores in Orlando offering the one-shot vaccine, but none in Ocoee or Winter Garden, at the moment.

The store employee also said that the store was offering vaccines to teachers and daycare workers under the age of 50, going beyond what Gov. Ron DeSantis is allowing. According to the state's Covid-19 health site, Florida is offering the vaccines to K-12 school employees, sworn law enforcement officers and firefighters above the age of 50, and people under 65 "deemed medically vulnerable."

Vaccine appointments at the Windermere CVS store were fully booked last week because the store employee said it is only supplied with enough doses for about one week. It was unclear when it would be resupplied but said people could check with the store or on the CVS Covid-19 website. CVS only schedules appointments through its site.

Eligible residents can also schedule vaccine appointments at participating Publix stores. It appears Walgreens is also beginning to offering vaccines  in select places in Central Florida.

March 5, 2021

Oakland offering appointments for two-dose Covid-19 vaccines March 19 & April 9

The town of Oakland is offering appointments for both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine on March 19 and April 9 at the Oakland Meeting Hall, located at 221 N. Arrington St.

The free vaccinations are by appointment only and no walk-ins will be allowed. Those who make appointments must attend both dates. Once both appointments are confirmed, you must fill out this Covid form (in English) (in Spanish), and bring it to your appointments. 

To register, please call (321) 614-3272. 

The current criteria for eligibility is:

  • Florida residents 65 years old or more with a state-issued ID

  • Seasonal residents aged 65 or more with two forms proof of residence

  • Sworn law enforcement officers and firefighters 50 years or older with a state-issued ID and proof of employment

  • All K-12 school employees aged 50 or more with a state-issued ID and proof of employment

The vaccinations are offered in partnership with Orange County and the Orange County Fire Rescue. Guidelines for vaccinations in Florida are rapidly changing. Find updated information here.

March 4, 2021

Lynx offers free rides for seniors to vaccination sites

Lynx is offering free transportation to Orange County seniors who are 65 or older and unable to drive to a FEMA vaccination site at Valencia College-West.

The bus system already provides free rides to the county's Convention Center for seniors with valid vaccination appointments.

When a senior schedules a ride, they'll get picked up at their residence by a Lynx driver who will take them straight to the vaccination site, wait until the senior is vaccinated, and tthen drive them home.

All seniors need for a trip to the FEMA site is valid ID — no appointment necessary. Family members or caregivers are welcome to ride along.

Lynx requires at least 48 hours notice to schedule a ride through the county's Office of Emergency Management. Call 3-1-1 to make arrangements.

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