BRADENTON, Fla. - Three Manatee County employees have died from COVID-19 since June and Manatee County Administrator Doctor Scott Hopes said vaccines are key to keeping employees safe.
"This is public health. It’s here and quite frankly we know how to minimize the risk of contracting this virus," he said.
All three employees were unvaccinated. Two were from the I.T. department and the third worked in the utility department.
Dr. Hopes said he noticed a spike in cases following two meetings which were attended by employees who were later found to be infected. One of those meetings involved utility workers planning for Hurricane Elsa.
Since May there's been a total of 41 positive cases throughout Manatee County's 1916 employees. Five of those cases are considered breakthrough cases, involving those fully vaccinated. They all survived.
Dr. Hopes said he does not see a vaccine or mask mandate in the future for county employees.
"We are a community of choice and I think we have the fortitude and I will tell you in these departments that have had a large number of cases and especially when they have a death, we are seeing an increase in desire to go ahead and get vaccinated," he said.
The county has installed UV lights in air handlers, is increasing cleanings and has added a special coating on floors that keep COVID from spreading.
Dr. Hopes says vaccines are effective and key to keeping the county and its employees going.
"The vaccine works. It worked in the beginning. It still works," said Dr. Hopes.