MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the state.
In Manatee County, the latest state data shows nearly 30,000 people have been tested for coronavirus resulting in 1,548 positive cases — that is a 5.2% positive rate. In all, 242 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19, 122 people died from the virus.
One Manatee County ZIP Code in particular has been hard hit by coronavirus — 34208. The ZIP Code covers east Bradenton and Samoset. The Florida Department of Health’s latest data shows 340 people have tested positive in that ZIP Code alone.
Manatee County’s Public Safety Director Jacob Saur has remained in close contact with county health officials throughout the pandemic.
“34208 is the ZIP Code that encompasses a lot of East Bradenton and within the ZIP Code there are some long-term care facilities we have had hotspots and outbreaks in. Also within that ZIP Code, there is a young population that we believe has community spread,” said Saur.
Saur tells 8 On Your Side Manatee County leaders are concerned about the positive cases within the area and are actively working to reach under-served communities.
“At the beginning of this in February and March, we really were focused on testing the elderly and the at risk population and tests were very scarce at that point. The good part of that today is, there are many more options to get tested and we believe that the community and the public is taking advantage of that,” said Saur.
Manatee Memorial Hospital falls within the 34208 ZIP Code in Bradenton. Earlier this week, 8 On Your Side looked into the hospital’s COVID-19 policies after multiple visitors claimed not all staff were wearing masks.
The hospital’s CEO sent us a statement earlier this week saying “face masks are required to enter the facility”.
Jordana Webber’s says she say multiple nurses without masks on inside the hospital when she was visiting. She was in a room with two nurses as they prepped her husband for surgery, shocked by what she was seeing.
“Neither one had masks on and they were leaning over him, talking to him. They were in the little cubicle with us so it was pretty disturbing,” said Webber. “I thought the people in the hospital for sure would be wearing masks. It is bad enough to go to the store and see people without masks on,” she continued.
Webber, who is also a nurse, expressed her concerns to the hospital. “I was told the policy was that masks for employees was optional which is surprising,” said Webber.
After sending negative feedback following her husband’s procedure. She received a call and was told the policy was going to change due to her complaint.
8 On Your Side followed up with Manatee Memorial Hospital again Thursday, asking if hospital leaders are considering changing the policy or tightening up rules for staff inside the facility, especially given its location in a red zone for COVID-19.
We received this statement from CEO and spokesperson Kevin DiLallo saying, “we are implementing updated guidelines that will require wearing a mask at all times in the hospital.”
Webber was pleased to learn of the updated guidelines.
“I certainly do feel there are a lot of people that are not taking this seriously, even people I know. They say ‘oh, I can’t wear a mask, I can’t breathe, I heard the CO2 is bad for you’. There are so many excuse. I don’t understand the big push not to do it,” said Webber.
County leaders tell 8 On Your Side they don’t want the public to become complacent.
“That is a big concern, not only in our county but throughout the state. When we talk about decreasing the spread of COVID-19, there is really only a couple of things that can do that, one of those that could be done today and needs to be done is wearing your mask. That greatly decreases the chances of COVID-19 spread through airborne droplets is everyone wearing a mask, so we continue that push.” said Saur.
There is one testing site in the 34208 ZIP Code. MCR Health East Manatee is hosting drive-thru COVID-19 testing Monday-Friday. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. MCR Health is also giving out free masks at local facilities.
The Florida Dept. of Health also has several testing sites open across Manatee County.
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