How Tampa Bay's largest employers are reacting to COVID's surge
Two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors, a reversal of earlier guidance, President Joe Biden announced that all federal employees will have to get a COVID-19 vaccine or wear a mask and under-go regular COVID testing .
With the Federal government being the largest employer in the United States, ABC Action News reached out to the largest employers throughout the Tampa Bay area to see how the updated guidance and Biden's announcement would affect them.
Please Note: All information is current as of Thursday, July 29.
- Based on scientific evidence, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at reducing both the risk of becoming infected and spreading the infection to others. As part of our commitment to protecting the health and well-being of our team members, patients, and communities, we strongly encourage all of our team members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, AdventHealth has not mandated vaccines for our team members.
- I will check in with our leadership team to see whether the announcement will change anything here or in our 15 local hospitals, but since we’re a health care organization we already require masks to be worn in clinical areas – whether or not team members and/or their patients are vaccinated. Here’s the statement we posted to our newsroom [baycare.org] and shared with reporters yesterday: https://baycare.org/newsroom/2021/june/baycare-to-pause-some-elective-procedures-in-hillsborough-and-polk-counties
- We updated our mask policy "following CDC guidance," and communicated with employees yesterday. Masks are not required at office desks or cafeterias (if socially distanced). Masks are necessary in common areas, elevators, etc.. Bank employees are still wearing masks. Not considering vaccine mandate at this time.
Hillsborough Community College
- We take our direction on such issues from the Florida Department of Education as we fall under the Florida College System.
- Jabil strongly encourages our employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when they are eligible. Employees who choose to receive the vaccine are compensated for time away from work if they receive the vaccine during their scheduled work hours. Additionally, we have offered on-site vaccinations at several of our facilities to all eligible Jabil employees.
Johns Hopkins All Children's
- Here’s a link to the press release we put out last month on this subject: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/johns-hopkins-medicine-to-require-covid-19-vaccinations-for-personnel
Lakeland Regional Health
- We continue to strongly encourage our team members to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as its effectiveness in fighting the virus is clearly evident. The vaccines are not mandatory at this time at Lakeland Regional Health; but we will continue to evaluate incentives that would encourage team members to get vaccinated. Our team members actively use high quality personal protective equipment and other safety measures in their work at our Medical Center and our ambulatory locations.
Moffitt Cancer Center
- Moffitt Cancer Center’s top priority is the safety of our patients and team members. We are particularly concerned for our immunosuppressed cancer patients, who may be unable to develop immunity following the vaccine, leaving them at risk for developing COVID-19 infection. We continue to encourage team members to take the vaccine to protect those patients, themselves and their families. All staff are required to wear a mask when providing patient care. All unvaccinated team members are required to wear a mask at all times on our campus. We are closely monitoring CDC guidance and will continue to reassess our policy.
Pasco County Government
- Pasco County encourages everyone to take whatever precautions they feel are necessary to protect their health. Pasco County works closely with the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County to monitor COVID-19 in our community. The vast majority of positive cases are now in people who are not vaccinated. As a reminder, vaccines are available for everyone who is eligible. Please visit the DOH Vaccine Locator webpage to find COVID-19 vaccination sites by county or city.
Pasco County Schools
- In Pasco County Schools we have no plans to require that employees – or students – be vaccinated. We have strongly encouraged all our employees and students 12 years and older to get vaccinated. In fact, we held several events in designated schools and the district office to offer the vaccine for free, and many participated. However, we have no plans to mandate vaccinations.
- PGT Innovations is not offering incentives to our team members to encourage vaccination; however, we are assisting our team members who would like to be vaccinated by providing the vaccine through our on-site wellness clinic. We held a vaccination event for interested team members and their families on April 27th where all of the 55 available vaccines were administered. A second event is being planned to accommodate the team members and their family members who were not able to be served at the first event.As we are an essential business, our facilities and offices have been open throughout the pandemic. Early in 2020, we implemented many measures to protect the health and wellness of our team members, including adjusting work environments to allow for social distancing, installing thermal cameras to identify elevated body temperatures of anyone entering our facility, restricting visitor access, and encouraging remote work options for applicable positions. We also implemented a mandatory mask policy, as it aligned with the CDC guidance and state recommendation.As these precautions have served to significantly limit our team members’ exposure to the COVID-19 virus while at work during the height of the pandemic, we do not feel that it is necessary to require our team members to be vaccinated in order to work in our facilities.
Pinellas County Government
- The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners has not announced any plans or intention to enact such a policy at this time. Pinellas County has coordinated with the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County to host several employee vaccination clinics at government sites across the county to make it as easy as possible for employees to get vaccinated.
Sarasota County Schools
- The district cannot compel employees or students to go get a COVID test, nor can the district compel employees or students to share test results. Similarly, the district cannot compel employees or students to get the COVID-19 vaccination, nor can the district ask a person's vaccination status.We are still being advised by the local Department of Health to implement social distancing when possible. Social distancing cannot be guaranteed and is dependent on the number of students and staff in any location at a given time. We will continue to follow DOH guidelines utilizing current quarantine procedures. Classrooms, as well as high traffic areas and touchpoints, will continue to be cleaned regularly, as they were throughout this past year.Our district has an optional face mask policy -- it was discussed & approved by the School Board at their July 13 meeting. At this time, our traditional public schools will use the new optional face mask policy that was approved by the School Board. Additionally, our School Board decided at their meeting on July 27 that the optional face mask policy will be further discussed at their next meeting on August 3.
Sarasota Memorial Healthcare
- Here is a link to a video interview with James Fiorica, MD, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System Chief Medical Officer. In this 20-minute Zoom interview, Dr. Fiorica addresses a range of questions shared by local news outlets and through social media. https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/WnSkGkM6Lvm-WBnAo18bpJvHbVuHhOsPTDUEM1ljcPPZrcP7kysKzqblfGrzWtIf.Pln-59SETYZEPRjm?startTime=1627577531000
St. Petersburg College
- Here’s a link to our most recent COVID update: https://www.spcollege.edu/spc-updates . Our task force meets weekly to continue to monitor all new developments and will amend our protocols as necessary.
University of South Florida
- USF strongly encourages vaccines and masks, but they are not required.