Spectrum News 13: Soto Explains Why Osceola County Has Highest Percentage of Positive COVID-19 Cases in Central Florida

April 16, 2020
In The News

Osceola County’s percentage of positive COVID-19 tests is the highest in Central Florida, tracking in the double digits for more than a week.

 

Osceola County does not have the highest number of coronavirus cases — as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, that number was 353. But it does have the highest percentage of positive coronavirus cases at 12.6 percent. One week ago, it was 13.7 percent.

Spectrum News 13 asked Florida Rep. Darren Soto, who represents Osceola County along with parts of Orange and Polk Counties, why that is.

Soto explained this is an issue he’s been working on for several weeks.

“We know a lot of folks are essential workers who live around the Buenaventura Lakes and Kissimmee- in my hometown. They work at the airport or work at restaurants or takeout and retail. And then some of those areas are fairly dense,” he said.

Susan Ramirez is one of those essential workers. She’s owned Susan’s Courtside Café for more than a decade. While she did consider closing during the coronavirus pandemic, she decided to remain open.

Ramirez said, “I do get people from the hospital — nurses and doctors. They still go to work and still have to eat. If we’re not open, where do they go?”

Osceola County does not have the highest number of coronavirus cases. As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, that number was 353.

But it does have the highest percentage of positive coronavirus cases at 12.6 percent. One week ago, it was 13.7 percent.

Because of Osceola County’s higher positive coronavirus case rate, Soto applauds Osceola County officials for implementing tough measures, including requiring people to wear a face mask in public.

Orange and Seminole counties for example stood at 8.3 percent positive coronavirus cases Wednesday afternoon. Statewide, the percent of positive cases was 10.7 percent.

Soto says he’s working to open more testing sites and get more tests into Osceola County but cautions it could take until the end of May or June before the county has enough tests for everyone.

Ramirez became emotional when speaking to us, knowing that so many people are struggling, which is why she is determined to stay open and have a place for them to fill up on conversation and coffee.

Ramirez has also set up two computers inside her store for other small business owners to use and apply for federal grants. That is by appointment only. To make an appointment, just call Susan’s Courtside Café at 407-518-1150. ​

j