Dear Orange County Family,
 
It is hard to believe we are already nearly one month into 2021! I continue to be cautiously optimistic as we work to ensure our employees and residents are safe. Together, we can continue to work to overcome the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic since March of last year.

Inauguration
I had the privilege to attend the 59th Inauguration of a United States President with my wife, U.S. Representative Val Demings. I was moved most by President Joe Biden’s promise of uniting Americans. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration in my role as Orange County Mayor. I believe the road ahead is bright as we work to contain the pandemic and reenergize our economy.

Vaccines
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, a safe and effective vaccine is the most important intervention to end the pandemic. Orange County is following the required prioritization set by the federal government and the state in directing the first vaccinations to frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, as well as any resident over the age of 65.

This has been a big week at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) vaccination site as our first responders and residents started receiving their second dose of the vaccine, which means they are done with their vaccinations. The Convention Center is vaccinating 2,500 individuals every day. My office has received multiple letters singing high praises for the work, ease and efficiency at the Convention Center vaccination site. Although the OCCC is an official Department of Health vaccination site, the paramedics and personnel at Orange County Fire Recue, our Health Services Department and our Convention Center help to make this site a success – from both a health care and logistical standpoint. Thank you to everyone who is playing a key role in the success of the site. From our personnel at 311 helping to field questions … to our ISS team helping support vaccination registration … to our facilities and Emergency Operations Center team … everyone is making a positive impact.
 
Please know that if you are eligible to receive the vaccine, you can obtain the vaccine on County time with approval from your supervisor. For more information on the vaccines, go to ocfl.net/Vaccine and you can also read some of the frequently asked questions about the vaccine.

COVID-19 Testing
While the vaccine is available to select groups, free COVID-19 testing also remains a priority in our County. I am pleased to announce the Barnett Park testing site will remain open until the end of February. Orange County Health Services operates the site from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. You or any of your family members can get a rapid or antigen test and/or a PCR test. PCR tests are more accurate and results are usually available in 48 hours. Visit ocfl.net/testing for details and for additional testing sites. No appointment is necessary.

Diabetes Care Management Program
The Thrive program is a Diabetes Care Management program available through our partnership with AdventHealth. This innovative program aims to help participants manage life with diabetes and thrive through a multi-disciplinary approach. Enrollment for the free program ends January 31, 2021. Employees and/or family members who have participated in the program have not only improved their overall health but have also noticed a sustained decrease in their overall blood sugar levels. Watch the video about the Thrive program to learn more. You and/or your spouse can earn up to 70 myOCWellness points - 20 points for signing up and 50 points for completion of the program. For questions or more information, email wellness@ocfl.net.

Violent Crime Prevention Survey
Earlier this year, I convened the Citizens Safety Task Force to address gun violence and violent crime in the community. An integral part of the Task Force’s work is focused on community engagement. The Task Force launched a Community Crime Survey to gain insight from residents on solutions and strategies to prevent and reduce gun violence and violent crime. The online survey is simple to complete, and we nearly have 2,000 responses so far. Please take the survey if you have not already at ocfl.net/CrimeSurvey. The survey closes January 31, 2021.

Help Support the Arts!
You can add to the cultural vitality of our community by contributing to United Arts of Central Florida through a payroll deduction. The organization’s mission is to enrich communities by investing in arts, science and history. Contribute to United Arts of Central Florida by going online and signing up directly. The deduction for your contribution will be effective beginning February 2021 through February 2022. The deadline to enroll is Monday, February 1 at 7 a.m. One-time gifts also can be made through the online form. For more information, email artsandculturalaffairs@ocfl.net. Let’s make Orange County a thriving, celebrated community for the Arts!
 
I look forward to what 2021 brings and please know how much I appreciate all you do for our community and for our residents!
Jerry L. Demings, Orange County Mayor signature