Sarasota County Fire Department continues to have highest number of employees among county staff testing positive for COVID-19

Total number of cases countywide nearly 6,500 through Aug. 12

Editor’s note: The Sarasota News Leader is providing general reporting on the novel coronavirus to readers for free as a public service.

This is the Sarasota County COVID-19 update through Aug. 12, as provided by the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee. Image courtesy State of Florida

This week, another three employees of Sarasota County Government have tested positive for COVID-19, county Media Relations Officer Brianne Grant reported on Aug. 13.

From Aug. 7 through Aug. 13, she noted, one employee of the Public Utilities Department; one employee of the Sarasota County Fire Department; and one employee of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department joined the list of new cases.

According to The Sarasota News Leader’s review of county staff reports, the Fire Department has had the largest number of infections among its personnel. As noted in earlier updates, staff announced one Fire Department employee tested positive for COVID-19 on June 25; two more were added to the count on July 2; another joined the Fire Department list on July 3; three more learned on July 9 that they had tested positive; and another three were counted on July 14.

In her July 14 announcement, Sara Nealeigh, media relations officer for the county’s Emergency Services Department, notified the news media that the county would begin issuing a weekly update each Thursday afternoon.

Each affected department works with the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County in the process of contact tracing, staff makes clear in its news releases. That entails contacting all the persons who were exposed to the employees, to caution the individuals to isolate themselves until they can be tested, too, and learn the results, county Health Officer Chuck Henry has explained. Contact tracing is an initiative designed to prevent further spread of the virus.

This is one of the homepage banners for the Sarasota County Government website, Image courtesy Sarasota County

Further, Grant wrote in her Aug. 13 update, thorough cleaning has been performed in each employee’s workspace and in common areas the employee may have used. That has been county protocol, as emphasized in the reports.

The previous week — July 31 to Aug. 6 — two county employees were determined to have contracted the novel coronavirus, Grant wrote in her Aug. 6 update. One of them is in the Communications Department; the other is an employee of the Fire Department.

The highest number of new cases staff has announced since it began issuing weekly updates was eight, reported the week of July 17-23. Five of those were with the Fire Department.

Through Aug. 12, the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee reported a total of 557,137 COVID-19 cases in the state, with 8,913 deaths and 32,537 hospitalizations.

These are the most recent COVID-19 testing results for Sarasota County. Image courtesy Florida Department of Health
This is the Aug. 12 breakdown of cases by age for Sarasota County. Image courtesy Florida Department of Health

For Sarasota County, the total number of cases through Aug. 12 was 6,479, with a total of 167 deaths and 380 hospitalizations since the first case was counted on March 1, the Florida Department of Health noted.

This is the Aug. 13 ‘heat map’ produced by Sarasota County staff in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County. It shows the breakdown of COVID-19 cases by zip code over the previous 14 days. Image courtesy Sarasota County
This map shows the area of the 34237 zip code. Image from