MANATEE COUNTY, FL (April 21, 2020) – County Commissioners today rescinded a local curfew and authorized spending up to $100,000 to purchase another 1,200 COVID-19 testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) to boost the numbers of Manatee County residents who can be tested for the coronavirus.
Commissioners voted 4-3 to lift the curfew which had been put in place place to reflect the Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order limiting unnecessary trips from home. Commissioners Trace, Baugh, Jonsson and Benac voted to rescind the curfew with the expectation that Manatee County residents will continue to heed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order that limits non-essential trips around the community.
“That Manatee County has the fourth (highest mortality rate) in the state is a big concern to me … and we know local numbers are going to keep going up,” said Commission Chair Betsy Benac. “But people don’t want us enacting something more stringent than the Governor’s order. People have got to respect the fact that we cannot be together. We cannot congregate yet. The advice is clear we need to do more testing.”
Statewide, 278,888 Floridians — about 1 percent of the population — have been tested for the virus according to the Department of Health. In Manatee County, only about one half of 1 percent of the local population of about 400,000 has been tested. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve spending up to $100,000 for additional testing kits and PPE. With the additional 1,200 tests, local healthcare agencies will be able to raise the total number of people tested to 1 percent of the county population. Health leaders have said far greater numbers of people need to be tested to fully halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Our goal today is to get to the state level of 1 percent tested over the next seven days,” Coryea said. “Another 1,200 tests will get us to that goal and continue to raise that percentage locally.”
Administrator Coryea and Public Safety Director Jake Saur pointed out that the County already has a request in to state leaders for 600 testing kits in addition to the 1,200 that are now authorized for purchase.
Sheriff Rick Wells has said his deputies will continue to implement the Governor’s Executive Orders that limit non-essential trips around the community regardless of the curfew decision.
Sheriff Rick Wells has said in the past that his deputies will continue to implement the Governor’s Executive Order that limit non-essential trips around the community regardless of the curfew decision. By the end of the meeting it became evident that Florida Senate President Bill Galvano had arranged for an additional 300 testing kits to be provided to the County.
Today’s meeting can be viewed on-demand on the County’s YouTube channel and it will re-air periodically on Manatee Government Access (MGA) Spectrum channel 644, Verizon channel 30 and Comcast channel 20.