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A COVID-19 outbreak at a Florida county constructing killed 2 IT staffers and hospitalized three others

A COVID-19 outbreak among the IT staff at the Manatee County, Florida, government building has killed 2. Manatee County Florida

Two staff members in a Florida county’s IT department died of COVID-19 this week, the Bradenton Herald reported.

Three others in the department tested positive for COVID-19 and were hospitalized.

A sixth person in contact with those who were infected was vaccinated and did not contract the disease.

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Two staffers in a government IT department in Manatee County, Florida, died of COVID-19 following an outbreak at their office, the county said Friday.

The first staffer died at a local hospital Monday, County Administrator Scott Hopes told the Bradenton Herald. A second staffer died Thursday at their home one day after being diagnosed with the virus by a doctor, Hopes told the outlet.

Three other employees were hospitalized, according to the report, and a sixth person who worked in close contact with the infected people was vaccinated against COVID-19 and did not contract the virus.

All of the staffers who tested positive for the virus first reported experiencing a sore throat, Hopes told the outlet.

None of the employees who fell ill or died from COVID-19 were “elderly,” he said. Hopes told the Herald he feared that the severe cases may be a result of one of the stronger variants of COVID-19.

The two people who died were both in their 50s, according to the report. The youngest person of the three others who were hospitalized with COVID-19 was in their “late 30s,” according to the report.

The county announced on its Facebook page Friday that it was closing its County Administration Building because “a number of COVID-19 cases were detected among County employees.” County health officials were working to conduct contact tracing, the statement said.

The county building will remain closed until Monday for disinfection, the statement said.

“When our offices reopen, COVID-19 safety protocols will resume, including mandatory face masks,” the post said.

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The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners had voted 6-1 in May to rescind COVID-19 protocols, including the wearing of face masks, as the Herald noted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also in May similarly shifted its guidance and said vaccinated people did not need to wear masks in most settings.

People who are not vaccinated should continue to wear masks, especially indoors, according to the CDC.

Around 700 people work in the building on a given day but the outbreak is so far believed to be contained to the IT department, which is on the building’s seventh floor, according to the report. The county is reportedly set to offer Johson & Johson and Moderna vaccines to staff at a June 25 vaccination event.

According to CDC data, there were 158 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed over the last week in Manatee County. There were 17 new hospital admissions for COVID-19, a 70% increase over the week prior, according to the data.

About 50% of Manatee County residents are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, according to CDC data. Just over 42% of county residents are fully vaccinated against the disease.

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