The Manatee County Administration Building reopened June 21 after it was evacuated June 18 and closed June 19-20 because two Manatee County employees died earlier in the week as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Administrator Scott Hopes said June 19 five employees in the county's Information Technology Services Department died or were hospitalized after contracting the virus. Hopes said the two employees who died, Al Cox and Mary Knight, were in their 50s.
Three additional employees were hospitalized with the virus, according to Hopes. He wasn't sure of their ages, but they "appear to be younger."
Hopes, who is an epidemiologist, said he is concerned this form of the virus is a highly contagious variant based on how quickly it spread through the department. Hopes said the five employees who contracted COVID-19 were not vaccinated.
"So far, the individuals working in that department who were vaccinated have not contracted the virus," Hopes said.
Hopes said the Manatee County Commission has strongly recommended the use of masks among unvaccinated people who enter the administration building. Masks will continue to be provided in the building to those who do not have their own. Hopes said unvaccinated people should also social distance when possible. Hopes is also recommending unvaccinated employees get vaccinated.