BRADENTON, Fla. — Manatee County said no new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the county administration this week after an outbreak left two dead and hospitalized three others.
County Administrator Scott Hopes revealed a sixth employee from the same floor recently tested positive, but based on preliminary information from contact tracing, it’s believed to be an outlier and not linked to the other cases.
Hopes said that person had a first dose of the vaccine earlier this month but is treated as unvaccinated. He said the other cases were not believed to be vaccinated. The county said no known staff with the virus are believed to have been in the building since June 14.
“I think the clinical presentation of this it appeared to be highly contagious,” said Hopes.
The building closed for cleaning over the weekend. Contact tracing was kicked off. Testing and vaccines were also offered to employees. Hopes said 19, including some from the same floor as the cases, tested negative. Of those, 4 took advantage of vaccinations.
Another employee Hopes said was vaccinated and had direct exposure to patient zero did not show symptoms and tested negative. Two others who had contact with that employee also tested negative.
“His second dose was only about 10 days before patient zero was exposing individuals in the department and that vaccine I believe not only saved him but it appears that because he was vaccinated and he was sort of the next individual in line in the timeline that the outbreak in IT stopped I believe because it ran up against a vaccinated individual,” Hopes said.
The county is planning to hold a drive-through vaccination event Friday.
The county released this list of protocols it said Hopes is implementing for the next two weeks:
*Whether out of concern for the spread of the virus or in consideration for the emotional toll the past two weeks have taken on the workforce, employees who are able to work from home may do so with the approval of their supervisor. Employees who have not been fully vaccinated are strongly recommended to consider vaccination or to work from home until there are no indications of active spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Administration Building.
*Employees who remain working at the Administration Building are strongly encouraged to either become vaccinated or to wear an N95 or equivalent face mask inside the Admin Building. These masks are far more effective against the spread of contagions and we have made them available in common areas of the Admin Building and in each department.
*Regardless of vaccination status, employees should refrain from close proximity to others and Dr. Hopes is encouraging people to host virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings whenever there is mixed vaccination status among the meeting group. Employees are directed to minimize close contact with others in the Admin Building until at least July 1 if there are no new cases.
*All County employees must remain conscientious of any COVID-like symptoms. Sick employees (those who have a cough, fever, headache, sore throat, etc.) should stay home. If they have COVID-like symptoms they should receive a rapid test and a PCR test in order to obtain conclusive results.
Hopes said health officials sent some specimens to a lab to confirm whether any variants are behind this.
“This has been very hard on our employees and our hearts, our prayers go out to those individuals that lost a loved one. And this is really unfortunate. And people need to understand this is very real and lives are lost to this and it can be prevented, it can be prevented with vaccination,” said Hopes.
Around 55 percent of those 12 years and older in Manatee County have received the vaccine, according to the latest Florida Department of Health data.