BRADENTON, Fla. — A total of three Manatee County employees have died of COVID-19 since June, but masks and vaccines still remain optional for workers
"This pandemic is not behind us. It is still here," said Dr. Scott Hopes, Manatee County Administrator.
Since May, Manatee County says they’ve had a total of 41 positive cases among government employees. Five of the cases were among people who were vaccinated.
The latest COVID death was last week to an employee at the county’s utilities department.
"I can tell you the utilities department is one of those places where there was a lot of vaccine hesitancy in addition to that there was a lot of resistance to wearing masks and that’s why we were seeing so many cases," said Hopes.
Last month, COVID swept through the IT department at the Manatee County government building, taking the lives of two people in just one week. The county says the three people who died were not vaccinated.
"We are seeing case volumes at the levels of the peak last year," said Hopes.
Hopes says they’ve changed policies regarding people who have come in contact with those who are infected to help stop the spread. And they encourage employees to get vaccinated and wear masks.
"People need to take personal responsibility," said Hopes.
The county’s health department just opened up a COVID vaccination and testing walk-up clinic that is located at the Palmetto Bus Station, open from 9-4pm on weekdays.