Today, Orange County, Florida Mayor Jerry Demings held his weekly COVID-19 media update.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving week is a major tourism week for Central Florida and theme park traffic has already picked-up, with Universal Orlando reaching capacity today for the first time on a weekday and Walt Disney World Resort nearly sold out of Disney Park Passes for Thanksgiving at all four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Due to this, today’s Orange County coronavirus press conference focused heavily on tourism.
Mayor Demings began by noting that, “Our number one goal this week is to slow the spread of the virus in our community. Secondly, we will continue to do so by offering free COVID-19 and PCR testing through Orange County Health Department to anyone who needs it.”
This testing is, of course, available to Walt Disney World Resort Cast Members and other theme park workers who reside in Orange County.
When asked about economic concerns due to the CDC’s warnings about not traveling this holiday season, Demings stated, “The airport [Orlando International Airport/MCO] reported today that within the last few days we’ve had the second busiest airport in the nation.”
Many recent travelers attest to the fact that the airport was not at all sparsely populated last week. However, it’s also been noted that workers have been doing a good job of enforcing face masks and travelers were social distancing effectively in nearly all areas.
Demings continued to discuss tourism, noting:
“We have to balance out living, with the ability of people to relax…we have to balance that with our livelihoods and the ability of our businesses and others to safely operate and to make profit. So, we’re balancing this the best as we can.”
“It may be a good thing that people feel safe traveling here. It kind of speaks to the type of community that we have. I would celebrate that at the same time, but I certainly can’t say I don’t have any concerns about it.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer added, “People flying in and going to Disney or Universal. Those are two of the safer places I can think of to go and not worry as much about whether you might contract COVID because of the social distancing and other practices that they’ve put in place.”
Florida tourism has suffered immensely throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the area arguably needs a strong — and safe — holiday season from Walt Disney World and other local theme parks in order to bolster the economy heading into the new year.
Watch the full Orange County, Florida coronavirus Thanksgiving week update — including current COVID-19 case numbers — below: