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Marion County COVID-19 deaths more than double in a week

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Marion County Commission Chair Kathy Bryant and Health Department Administrator Mark Lander opted not to wear masks during a Facebook Live video updating county residents on the coronavirus.

For months the pandemic simmered in Marion County. In July, it has boiled over.

The number of cases has more than quadrupled.

Outbreaks are reported in the county jail and women’s prison.

And over the past week, the county added 23 deaths, bringing the death toll to 43. Most of the recent deaths involved senior citizens, and nine were from long-term care facilities.

Health Department spokeswoman Christy Jergens said the increase in deaths was predictable as the coronavirus spread.

“We are starting to see infections move from younger people to older and more medically frail populations,” she said.

Jergens says mitigation steps like mask wearing and social distancing will save lives — as will special precautions around older and vulnerable people.

In a Facebook Live video Friday, Health Department Administrator Mark Lander addressed the spike in deaths.

“If you are an individual who works in a care facility, if you care for one of your parents — if you’re a caregiver for maybe a parent or a grandparent — you need to take those added precautions,” he said.

He and County Commission Chair Kathy Bryant urged people to avoid crowds, maintain social distancing and wear face coverings in public.

During the video itself, Lander and Bryant sat across a table from each other — not wearing masks. This drew many questions and comments from viewers on Facebook.

Bryant said they keeping a distance — and were always around each other anyway. In previous weekly updates, she said, viewers complained about not being able to hear them.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.