COVID-19 cases surge in Florida, island numbers swell

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Some people wear masks at a June 23 county commission meeting as Jake Saur, Manatee County public safety director, presents information about COVID-19 to the board at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Islander Courtesy Photo
Department of Health-Manatee nurses and support staff gear up June 25 for COVID-19 specimen collection at Colony Cove Mobile Home Park in Ellenton. Health officials recommend the use of face coverings and social distancing to help prevent the spread as positive cases increase countywide. Islander Photo: Courtesy DOH-Manatee

In this instance, safety does not lie in numbers.

Manatee County confirmed a new record 270 positive cases in one day June 26.

The previous daily county record of 166 positive cases was June 25, according to the Florida Department of Health.

From June 19-25, 12% of those tested in Manatee County tested positive.

As of June 25, 2,002 had tested positive of 34,662 people tested in the county, while Sarasota County reported 1,139 positive cases of 32,277 tested.

Of people who tested positive in Manatee, 1,103 were recovered, according to DOH-Manatee.

A total of 253 people had been hospitalized and 128 people have died due to the virus in Manatee.

As of June 28, eight people in Bradenton Beach, seven people in Holmes Beach and one person in Anna Maria tested positive compared with May 29, when one person in Bradenton Beach and one in Holmes Beach tested positive — out of 1,000 positive residents countywide.

Additionally, 17 nonresidents visiting the county tested positive as of June 28 compared with seven nonresidents at the end of May.

Nonresidents in the health statistics are people who test positive in Florida but reside in another state.

At a June 23 teleconferenced county commission meeting, county public safety director Jake Saur reported on COVID-19.

He said the recent increase in positive cases was not within long-term care facilities, as previously was the case.

As of June 25, 7.2% of positive cases were residents and employees of LTCF’s, compared with 26.5% of cases May 10.

He also said the increase was not due to increased testing, as testing has remained at about the same rate since June 1.

“This further suggests community spread is occurring and is the primary driver in the increase in positive cases,” Saur said.

He said wearing a mask remains one of the best ways to stop the spread, by inhibiting the transfer of droplets containing the virus.

The DOH-Manatee has distributed 300,000 masks, with 15 million more available to people that need them, Saur said.

The Manatee County Chamber of Commerce also is providing cloth face covers to businesses for employees at no charge until the supply of 30,000 is exhausted. Businesses do not need to be members to receive masks from the chamber.

The county considered implementing a face-covering mandate at a June 23 meeting, with the matter continued to June 24, but instead opted to support the Florida Surgeon General’s advisory, which states, “All individuals in Florida should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible.”

On the island, the cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach approved orders June 25 mandating face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained, with some exceptions.

Bradenton Beach had not implemented a mask plan as of press time for The Islander.


Know the virus, stop the spread

There is no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 — COVID-19.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is spread:

  • Mainly from person-to-person.
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another — within about 6 feet.
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or may be inhaled.
  • The virus may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Public health officials recommend people:

  • Wear a cloth face cover when in public, except children under the age of 2 and those who have breathing difficulties.
  • Wash hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even at home.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people outside the home.
  • Discard used tissues in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Be alert for symptoms.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention