Orlando Residents Asked to Limit Water Usage as Virus Surges

Hospitalizations are spiking and deaths in the Orlando area have overwhelmed crematoriums.

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Orlando residents are asked to cut back on water usage as the virus surges in Florida.

A couple walk through sprinklers in the Hunter’s Creek neighborhood in Orlando, Fla.Credit…Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Aug. 20, 2021, 8:20 p.m. ET

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and utility officials asked residents to conserve water Friday to preserve the city’s supply of liquid oxygen, which is being used to treat a surging number of Covid-19 patients.

During a Friday afternoon news conference, Linda Ferrone of the Orlando Utilities Commission asked residents to refrain from using excess water and to be prepared to do so for at least several weeks. .

A Delta variant-driven surge has made Florida one of the nation’s worst-hit states, with new cases recently topping their winter peak. Hospitalizations in Orange County, where Orlando is, are up 58 percent over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. Deaths in the Orlando area have overwhelmed crematoriums, which are running out of room to store bodies, local media reported.

The New York Times has previously reported on supply chain issues and oxygen shortages during the pandemic in India, northern Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere.

“It’s critical that we continue to work together and each one of us do our part, as we have done throughout this pandemic, to mitigate the impacts the virus continues to have on our community,” Mayor Dyer said during the news conference. “While this is another new challenge, I know that as a community, working together, we can overcome it with the help of our residents and businesses.”

The leader of the school board of Orange County has said the district should begin mandating masks in its schools.

That would defy the state’s Republican governor, who has refused to budge on his ban on mask mandates, though several school districts have gone ahead with them.

According to documents obtained by Politico, school officials in Broward and Alachua counties have received orders from the state to reverse their mask requirements within 48 hours or face losing their salaries. President Biden stated earlier this week that his Education Department may take legal action to deter states from barring universal masking in classrooms.

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