ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County learned Thursday that Circuit Court Judge Lisa Munyon rejected a challenge to Mayor Jerry Demings’s executive order requiring residents to wear face coverings in public.

What You Need To Know

  • Mayor Jerry Demings said ruling means mandate is constitutional

  • Health officials said the COVID positivity rate fell to 4.9 percent

  • Nine residents have died of COVID-related reasons since Monday

  • Comptroller said tourist tax collection jumped but is still way off

"In other words, there is no constitutional right to expose others to a contagious and potentially lethal virus during a declared pandemic by not wearing a face mask," Demings said at Thursday’s news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demings said he was pleased with the court's decision and that Orange County's current positivity rate continues to trend downward, showing the mask mandate makes sense. 

The two-week COVID positivity average is down to 4.9 percent, but since Monday, nine additional deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported in Orange County, health department officials said.

Dr. Raul Pino, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, warned residents to continue to practice the safety protocols that have helped bring down the positivity as they head into the Labor Day weekend.

 "The county is in good shape,” Pino said. “A holiday weekend is coming. Please, please do not make the mistake that we all made on Memorial Day weekend.  Wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands."

Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said positive trends are emerging business-wise, too, like safety measures taken by the county and tourism businesses. The county collected more in tourism development taxes than in June but still brought in just $5.158 million in July, which was down 77.2 percent from July 2019, he said. 

"We believe the increase is attributable in large part to Disney World's July opening, even though it was a limited opening," Diamond said.

While the tourism tax intake nearly doubled from June, it's still historically low — and a more than a $17 million drop from last year in Orange County.

Diamond said the county still had to rely on TDT reserves to meet the shortfall in taxes to meet its funding obligations. The TDT cash reserve decreased by $21,755,351 million in July but remains healthy, he said.