ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — As experts around the country brace for a potential spike in cases in the next two months, health leaders in Orange County are working to keep coronavirus case numbers down locally. 

What You Need To Know

  • Dr. Raul Pino says it is hard to pinpoint which UCF-area bar is to blame

  • He says college students are bar hopping, making it harder to contact trace

​Currently, the battle remains with the bar scene, but identifying exactly where those new cases are coming from has been tricky. Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Orange County Health Department, says bar hopping is to blame. 

Hitting a handful of bars in one night would have been no big deal for young and college-aged people pre-pandemic, but now, bar hopping is making it harder for contact tracers to track down where these coronavirus case numbers are stemming from. 

On Monday, Pino said health leaders are seeing an increase in activity in the bars around the University of Central Florida campus, though which bars exactly is not clear. 

“So they go to many bars in the same night. So it would be unfair to the businesses in that sense to mention one and not the other one because they really, the students or the people in this age, go through this. But there has been activity, increased activity around the UCF campus," Pino said. 

While Orange County is not seeing a major outbreak tied to bar reopening, Pino said more than half of the new cases reported in the county are in people 15 to 34 years old. And in the past two weeks, the majority of cases in that age group are coming from 18 to 20 year olds. 

The big concern with that, Pino said, is how this could spread through the community.

“So we want to continue to alert our community about the need to protect your individuals, not just to protect them although they seem to be doing better than the general population at-large, but also to protect those who are older with pre-existing conditions that are living in multi-family units,” Pino said. 

Case numbers have been rising in recent weeks among UCF students, according to the UCF COVID trackers, with preliminary contact tracing finding several of those new cases traced back to activity at bars and social gatherings in the area near campus. 

And case spikes tied to bar traffic near the university have happened before. Back in June, one bar near UCF had its liquor license suspended after more than 40 people who went there got coronavirus. 

While bar hopping has made it trickier for their teams to track down exactly where these new cases are popping up, Pino said they are staying in regular contact with bar owners about the case numbers and say teams will continue to watch the area near UCF closely.

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