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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 11 months ago

Volusia County officials ask Biketoberfest visitors to take precautions as COVID-19 cases increase

The 14-day positivity rate remains below 5%.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

As Biketoberfest rolls into town, Volusia County COVID-19 cases are already increasing slightly. 

During a COVID-19 news briefing on Thursday, Oct. 15, Holly Smith, communications manager for the Department of Health in Volusia County, said that though the 14-day positivity remains below 5%, as it has since Sept. 24, the county is seeing clusters of new cases being reported in households. In addition, the free COVID-19 testing site at the Volusia County Fairgrounds has started to see a "significant increase in the number of people having symptoms." Previously, Smith said that testing site had seen more asymptomatic individuals seeking a COVID-19 test. A total of 7,000 people have been tested a that site, said county Emergency Management Director Jim Judge.

As of the morning of Oct. 15, Volusia County has seen a cumulative total of 11,739 cases of coronavirus and 299 people have died. According to data released by DOH, the positivity rate for the last seven days has ranged from 2.56% to 8.98%. 

Judge said the county will open up a walk-up COVID-19 testing site at New Smyrna Beach once the fairgrounds site closes at the end of the month. 

During the briefing, public safety officials also assured the community that their departments were prepared for Biketoberfest, which began on Thursday, Oct. 15 and will wrap up on Sunday, Oct. 18. 

Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri said he anticipates crowds in Daytona despite the city not permitting outside events. DBPD will not be shutting down Main Street activities, only vehicular traffic. 

“It’s a lot safer to have motorcycles only on Main Street due to the area there, how tight it is," he said.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said they're not the "mask or social distancing police." Visitors are responsible for taking precautions against COVID-19 during the event. He asked they obey the law and respect the residents. 

“While we open up our community to you, we’re asking you to respect us and follow the rules," Chitwood said.

Visitors were reminded to wash their hands, practice social distancing and wear a mask. 

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