Orlando, Florida is the Theme Park Capital of the World. It’s home to Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando Resort, Legoland, and many more. In March, along with the rest of the country, these Parks shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The beginning of June saw the gradual reopening of Orlando’s many theme parks, but COVID-19 had not completely disappeared.
Now nearing the end of July, the vast majority of Parks are now open. Strict guidelines are in place to keep all visitors and guests safe. Disney, for example, requires ear-loop masks for all guests over 2 years old and requires visitors to follow social distancing guidelines. Florida, however, has been facing an alarming rise in positive COVID-19 cases and is one of the country’s virus hot spots.
People have been wondering- Is the increase in cases due to the opening of the theme parks? Orange County officials will tell you no. In a press conference on July 20th, Dr. Raul Pino answered the following question asked by Associated Press’s Mike Schneider:
“Now that all Disney theme parks are opened, have there been any reports of virus spread either coming from workers or visitors? Can you provide the same status update for Universal and SeaWorld?”
Dr. Pino responded with,
“Outbreaks, no. We have had isolated individuals that have become positive. Now, remember, we rely on the data that is provided by individuals. So, it is self-reported. So someone could lie to us about where they were, where they live, or what the situation may be. So having that in consideration, we haven’t seen any large amounts or numbers of positive cases coming with tags that identify them to any of the parks.”
Full July 20th, 2020 Press Conference:
Basically, the increasing number of cases does not directly correlate with the opening of the parks. There have been individual cases reported but no large outbreaks. Keep in mind that all of the information that the county has is self-reported by theme park visitors. As Dr. Pino stated, people can lie about where they have been. People could have caught the virus from other places they visited, it’s just hard to determine. The county is working hard to trace cases and keep its residents and visitors safe.