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Lee County sheriff urges staff to get vaccinated after second deputy dies from COVID-19

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno is encouraging employees in the department to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

A letter was sent to staff members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office hours after a second deputy died from complications of COVID-19 in less than a month.

“I do not have to tell each of you that being a law enforcement officer is a dangerous job,” Marceno said in the letter. “With this invisible threat among us, the risks are even greater.”

LCSO announced the death of Deputy Sheriff First Class William Diaz, 29, who died early Tuesday morning. 

The announcement comes just over two weeks after the sheriff’s office announced the death of Deputy First Class Steven Mazzotta who also passed away from complications of COVID-19 on August 16, deputies said. 

It is unclear whether either officer had received the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the letter, Sheriff Marceno does not mandate a vaccine for the department but strongly encourages staff to get protected against COVID-19. 

“The decision to vaccinate remains personal, and I do not believe in forcing any member of my family into vaccination,” Marceno said in the letter. “However, I hope that this recommendation will assist you in making a decision that adds an extra layer of protection to this already dangerous career.”

Lee Health announced ??that 18 people died at hospitals in the healthcare system on Monday, August 30, making it the deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic for Lee Health.

Only one of the patients that died was vaccinated.

The hospital system has consistently broken death records week-over-week since Delta-driven COVID-cases started to surge in the area. 

READ THE FULL LETTER SENT TO LCSO STAFF BELOW: 

Family members,

As your sheriff, it is my worst fear to announce the passing of one of our family members. Today, I was saddened to deliver the news that COVID-19 took another member from us.

I do not have to tell each of you that being a law enforcement officer is a dangerous job. With this invisible threat among us, the risks are even greater.  In an effort to protect each and every one of our family members – if you haven’t yet done so – I strongly encourage you to consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The decision to vaccinate remains personal, and I do not believe in forcing any member of my family into vaccination.  However, I hope that this recommendation will assist you in making a decision that adds an extra layer of protection to this already dangerous career.

Local and national health care professional advise us that there is strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.   We are seeing this locally as the vast majority of COVID-19 patients in ICU, and COVID-19 deaths are unvaccinated patients. 

I encourage you to speak with your doctor, or consult StarCare or other medical professionals as you make your decision.

Because vaccination has proven to be effective in preventing COVID-19, and minimizing its effects when COVID-19 still occurs, I’ve requested our health care insurer to offer a $100 gift card to each employee that gets vaccinated.

I urge you to protect yourselves from this deadly virus. I stand by you no matter the decision you make, however, I hope you choose to join me and get vaccinated.

The post Lee County sheriff urges staff to get vaccinated after second deputy dies from COVID-19 appeared first on NBC2 News.

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