Manatee Memorial Hospital CEO warns county leaders: Inaction now will have consequences

The CEO of Manatee Memorial Hospital urges residents to social distance themselves. He's worried our actions now will bring devastating consequences soon. 

"This could be very serious based on our population," said Manatee Memorial Hospital and Manatee Healthcare System CEO Kevin DiLallo. 

March 1 marked the first Manatee County resident diagnosed with COVID-19. Flash forward 23 days, 16 people have now tested positive in the county, including a 14-year-old. 

Those are just confirmed cases. There's no telling how many actual cases are out there. DiLallo wants to see more actions taken to curtail the virus' spread. 

"I'm concerned because I know we say we can’t do things but our population, as you know, we have a high percentage of citizens that are 70 and 80," he told officials at a meeting Tuesday.

Number of COVID-19 patients in Manatee County as of March 24

Manatee County has shut down beaches, and now boat ramps and Beer Can Island. 

DiLallo said it's not enough. He wants to see safeguards in areas where the most vulnerable live. 

"I think we need to start looking at the 55-and-older communities. I understand you don’t want to affect businesses, you don’t want to shut things down. I would like to see you be a little more aggressive on closing down non-essential businesses and parks," he said. 

Via teleconference, Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh expressed her concern. 

"For us to talk about shutting down Manatee County without going through the proper items that we need first, I think it’s a little bit too soon to be talking about that," she said. 

DiLallo said his medical centers continue to prepare for the unknown and the expectation that cases - and the need for hospital beds - will spike. 

"We need to get a little more proactive. Manatee County can be a leader as opposed to a follower. If we are a follower I think we will be too late to the game," he said. 

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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