MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes said the county learned Wednesday that a sixth employee of its administration building tested positive for COVID-19.

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That employee was last in the building on June 14, officials said.

This latest case is not believed to be related to an original outbreak of employees who work on the same floor. Two members of the IT department have died and three others were hospitalized after contracting the virus. Hopes said none were vaccinated.

Another employee who was vaccinated and had direct contact with the first positive case did not get infected.

"The health department has been given work logs and other tracking information to identify anyone else that may have been exposed outside the seventh floor or in other buildings," Hopes said. "But ... we have had no new cases reported in the administration building, so hopefully what we have observed is that when the SARS virus hit case number six, the vaccinated individual, that appears to be where the outbreak has stopped."

Hopes said the county sent samples from the original group of positive tests to the Florida Department of Health in Jacksonville to determine if one of the newer COVID-19 variants is behind the outbreak.

"I think the clinical presentation of this, it appeared to be highly contagious. I mean, it appears that everyone that had contact with patient zero contracted the virus, and they were unvaccinated," Hopes said. "That's a pretty high, high, high rate of infection. Then, in addition to that, with the five cases, with two cases ending in fatality, that's a 40% fatality rate. That's not the COVID that we originally saw in March of 2020."

Results of the testing are expected later this week.

"People need to understand: This is very real, and lives are lost to this, and it can be prevented. It can be prevented with vaccination," said Hopes. 

The county is hosting a drive-thru vaccination event for employees and anyone in the downtown community Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the alley behind the administration building.