Ground Zero in the Coronavirus Response

October 14, 2021

Public health and safety

Since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit central Florida 18 months ago, Orange County Health Services has led the way in providing personal protective equipment (PPE), testing site services and vaccination site services – all part of a Herculean effort to keep residents safe and secure. healthy.

Daniella Sullivan, health services program administrator for the OC Medical Clinic, had only been in the county for a few months when the pandemic hit the area. Responsible for all operations at the Orange County Medical Clinic, she had to start dividing her time between the clinic and the COVID-19 test sites.

“The county was proactive from the start,” said Sullivan. “In early 2020, we were discussing possible scenarios, and once the first local coronavirus case was reported, we moved from preventing and distributing PPE to providing major testing services. “

A health services official began COVID-19 testing on April 29, 2020 at Ventura Elementary and the South Orange Youth Sports Complex. Testing has expanded to include additional locations across the county. To date, the division has helped administer more than 460,000 COVID-19 tests.

hands on arm administering COVID-19 vaccine

When the vaccine came out, health departments had to shift gears while continuing to manage the testing sites. Sullivan had to coordinate staff and support for the two while making sure operations at the clinic continued. As of December 2020, the county has administered more than 1.7 million doses of the vaccine to residents and has helped immunize 74% of residents with one or more doses.

Danny Banks, deputy county administrator / director of public safety, recalls the huge investment the division has made to get people vaccinated while continuing the testing platforms. “The smaller departments in the division – including animal services, mosquito control and the office of medical directors – have become part of the staffing infrastructure at test sites,” he said. he declares. “It was everyone on deck with people doing tasks that weren’t normally in their job descriptions. “

When the Delta variant hit a few months ago, health services had to shift gears again. Tests have exploded from 450 people / day to over 1,500 / day at Barnett Park, so two more test sites have been opened. At its peak, the county administered as many as 6,000 tests per day.

“It all made me a better leader,” Sullivan said. “In times of crisis, you have to adapt and lead differently. Residents need empathy and compassion, and my staff have been working hard for over a year and a half, so they need as much support as possible. And I have to be able to take a step back and admit when I’m scared, uncomfortable, or tired.

Banks believes the role health services play is largely unrecognized, as it was the unsung heroes who put others first and gave 100% of themselves, day after day, week after week, month after month.

“We will never be able to adequately reward altruistic people like Daniella and her team, each of whom mobilized and took up this great challenge,” he said. “In addition to tests and vaccinations, they have distributed over 20 million disposable masks. How many lives has it saved? How many hospitalizations did this prevent? We will never be able to measure that.

For more information and resources on coronaviruses, visit

Photo captions: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical staff from the Orange County government health services have provided essential COVID-19 services to residents and guests across the county.

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Jennifer R. Strohm

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