By Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings

Wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic is not a political statement or a personal opinion. It is a moral and civic obligation to yourself, your family, your neighbors and your community, so that we can slow the spread of the virus and ultimately, contain it.

Since there is not an FDA-approved vaccination at this time for COVID-19, the CDC experts say wearing a face covering or mask is our best chance at stopping the spread of the virus.

To make sure everyone is masking up, I issued an Executive Order in June. It mandates the wearing of face coverings for anyone working, living, visiting or doing business in Orange County. It will remain in effect until further notice.

My other priority is to keep all of you informed. I have led more than 60 news conferences reporting the latest COVID-19 information for our residents. At each update, the Florida Department of Health Orange County’s Health Administrator Dr. Raul Pino stresses the importance of the three W’s:

• Wear a mask or covering over your nose and mouth
• Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer
• Watch distance— stay six feet apart, avoid close contact and large crowds/gatherings

These actions are working. Our numbers are going down, but we must all continue to follow the CDC guidelines and wear a mask. We cannot stop now! We are finally seeing our efforts pay off in this war against the coronavirus.

To that end, I am proud to announce Orange County Government’s latest public health campaign: We Got You Covered. It is a reminder to protect yourself and others by doing the right thing and wearing a mask. This initiative will strengthen our coordinated response to the virus’ impact on Orange County.

In addition to protecting the health and well-being of our residents, we want to make sure our local businesses are safe as well. The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force’s Consumer Confidence Survey found that 69% of consumers are more likely to patronize a business that requires its employees to wear facemasks.

In order to improve adherence to CDC guidelines, we formed “Strike Teams,” which are made up of code enforcement officials and others to make sure businesses are in compliance. So far, they have visited over 1,100 establishments and were delighted to find nearly 85% of business owners following the rules to help keep customers and employees safe.

Please know that Orange County Government is working hard to keep you safe during this unprecedented time. Thank you for your commitment in helping us grow stronger and safer together! For more information on the “We Got You Covered” campaign, visit ocfl.net/WeGotYouCovered.

Do you have photos of yourself to share? Send some to us at tastychomps (at) gmail.com!

Here are some photos of our favorite folks around Orange County masked up for the “We Got You Covered” campaign:

Allison McCarthy of Halpern’s Prime Meat and Seafood
With Quay Hu, owner of Qreate Coffee in Orlando’s Mills 50 District
Chef Jack Jone of Sea Thai / Tuun Restaurant
Chef Matt Hinckley of Hinckley’s Meats at East End Market
Chef Nat Russell of Tennessee Truffle
“Easy” – owner and chef of Light on the Sugar Bakery
Owner Daniel Dang of Quickly Boba Tea Cafe by UCF
Chef and Owner Joseph Creech of Hunger Street Tacos