Florida Reports Some Covid Cases Near Disney Theme Parks
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Florida theme parks have seen some Covid-19 cases among guests and workers since reopening, but the state is unable to provide an exact count.
Two incidents involved workers associated with Walt Disney Co. parks, according to Raul Pino, a Florida Department of Health director in Orange County. One pertained to a construction company working outside the property, and another involved drivers for a transportation business serving the area. Both incidents weren’t in the parks themselves and didn’t involve the general public, he said. Pino said there have been other isolated cases, including one with a family that came from Indiana this week.
“We took care of that case as well,” he said during a press conference Friday. Disney declined to comment.
Pino, who directs the state’s Covid response in an area that’s the theme-park capital of the world, said one problem his department faces is that cases are sometimes reported by contractors or vendors associated with the attractions and not theme-park operators themselves.
Overall, Pino said he feels the parks have done a good job protecting the public.
“There are here or there one case, but we actually have not had a major issue with the theme parks,” he said. “They have taken this very seriously. They are not only interested in protecting consumers but they are also interested in protecting their brand.”
He cited measures the parks have taken, including mandatory mask wearing, social distancing and hand-sanitizer stations. “So far the experience has been very good,” he said.
Theme-park safety has come under particular scrutiny lately because California is still unwilling to allow parks to open due to virus risk. State officials floated potential guidelines for reopening last week only to see resistance from the industry on some points, including limiting guests to people from a 120-mile radius of the properties. Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger quit a state reopening task force last week.
The company also has been cutting jobs as it copes with shuttered parks in California and fewer visitors in Florida. It announced plans last week to lay off some 28,000 workers, most of them in Florida.
Florida began allowing its theme parks to reopen in June. Comcast Corp.’s Universal Studios and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. both began welcoming guests back that month, followed by Disney in July.
In the same press conference, Orange County schools reported 343 cases among employees and students, many of whom are still learning from home, in the first nine weeks of classes.
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