Traveling employees may have spread COVID-19 at two Manatee County long-term facilities, DoH says

The problem started about three weeks ago. Residents at long-term care facilities in Manatee County began to show symptoms of COVID-19.

Now, the Manatee County Department of Health says one or more traveling employees may have spread the novel coronavirus to residents and staff at two facilities, which now make up the bulk of the county’s 437 cases.

Nearly three dozen Manatee County residents have died from the virus, 14 residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

PREVIOUS: More than 25% of Manatee County COVID-19 cases in residents of long-term care faclitilies

Dr. Jennifer Benice with the Manatee County Department of Health says the agency has been watching 45 facilities. Eight have residents and/or staff who have tested positive for the disease at some point since March 2.

“We have put a request in for the National Guard to come in and test at…six sites and many others,” Benice told FOX 13. “We need to keep an eye on the staff. They’re the ones who are bringing it in. They are asymptomatic.”

RELATED: Florida releases names of nursing homes with COVID-19 cases

Manatee County says the two facilities with the most cases, which are both run by the same management team, account for 103 positive COVID-19 cases; 37 are staff members.

“Not only were those staff members working in both facilities, but also going out into other facilities where we have since learned other persons have been testing positive in those facilities. We also had to serve an involuntary order against one of the employees who knowingly went to another facility and other persons tested positive,” Benice told FOX 13 News.

MORE: Bay Area long-term care see COVID-19 spread quickly after first diagnosis

She says it now becomes about keeping an eye on staff members, as well as keeping up with testing.

“The more testing we have, the better opportunity we have to understand what’s happening,” explained Manatee DoH.

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


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