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No visitors: Sarasota Memorial Hospital announces new policy, 2 new COVID-19 cases

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Posted at 12:43 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 12:43:33-04

SARASOTA, Fla. — Sarasota Memorial Hospital announced two new positive COVID-19 cases at the hospital and a significant change to the visitor policy on Friday.

Starting at 6 p.m. Friday, the hospital is restricting all visitors except under exceptional circumstances to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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The two new cases of COVID-19 bring the hospital's total to six, according to a press release. One of the new patients is a person in their 60s, and the second is a person in their 70s. They both tested positive late Thursday night.

Of the six cases, the hospital says three were safely discharged and three remain in the hospital. All have been, or were, in isolation since their admission, according to the hospital.

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The Florida Department of Health is working to identify close contacts of the positive individuals. The hospital says leaders worked overnight to identify staff who may have been exposed before the patients were isolated.

"No matter how much you plan and prepare, there will always be unforeseen events and things you have to do differently," Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder said. "We have an incredible team and I could not be prouder as they rise to each and every challenge this virus throws our way."

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The hospital says it follows CDC guidance to determine whether an employee's risk is low, medium or high. According to the hospital, as with previous cases, most staff members were deemed low risk and cleared to return to work with a mask. They will also be monitored twice a day for symptoms of the illness, like a fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath.

To date, the hospital says no exposed staff have developed a respiratory illness or tested positive for COVID-19.