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South Dakota coronavirus death linked to man who stayed in South Pasadena

The man stayed in the Lexington Building of the Sun Island complex for about three weeks and left March 7. No one who visited the man has fallen ill, according to city emails.
South Pasadena City Hall.
South Pasadena City Hall. [ SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Mar. 20, 2020|Updated Mar. 20, 2020

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SOUTH PASADENA — A South Dakota man whose death was linked to the coronavirus stayed earlier this month at a condominium complex in this small waterfront community, according to emails from the city and the complex’s management company.

The man stayed in the Lexington Building of the Sun Island complex at 7500 Sun Island Drive S, also known as Bay Island, for about three weeks. He left the morning of March 7, according to the email from management. He also spent time in the Florida Keys.

The man didn’t go to the pool or clubhouse, nor did he socialize outside the unit, management email says, except to go aboard a boat owned by the owners of the condo.

The condo owners, and a neighbor who visited the condo, have self-quarantined since March 10 as a precaution. None have tested positive for coronavirus, and “there is no evidence that other residents of Sun Island are at risk,” the email says, although it doesn’t elaborate further.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced the first pandemic-related death in that state on March 10, according to news reports. The man was in his 60s, had underlying health issues and died in Davison County, which has a population of about 19,000.

Related: St. Petersburg condo resident tests positive for coronavirus

Residents received another email Friday saying the condo’s board of directors held an emergency meeting and opted to close all recreational facilities and amenities starting Friday until April 20. Those include the pool and spa, tennis court and gyms.

No one answered the phone Friday at Sun Island’s management office. Keri Palmer, the management company employee who sent the email informing residents of the situation, did not return an email seeking comment.

South Pasadena Mayor Arthur Penny himself received the email from condo management and forwarded it to city officials on Wednesday, according to emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. Fire Chief Dave Mixson told city officials that he contacted the Pinellas Department of Health.

A health department official responded “that while it would not be impossible for the people who came in contact with the deceased to become ill, at this point it would be highly unlikely,” Mixson wrote. “This is based on the fact that the deceased left our area on March 7th and those that were in direct contact have started self-isolation procedures.”

Mixson also spoke with Palmer, he wrote, who said the unit is on the ground floor, “so no elevator or stairwells would have been used.”

The mayor asked whether anyone contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a hospital or a private doctor. He also asked: “Would the city not receive notification if one of its citizens were in isolation due to being with someone who has COVID-19?”

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“That is concerning,” City Clerk Carley Lewis wrote back.

When contacted by the Times, Penny deferred questions to Lewis, who released the emails and referred further questions to the Department of Health.

South Pasadena has a sizeable elderly population, according to U.S. Census data, with 58 percent of residents 65 and older. Public health officials have said that seniors, and those with underlying health conditions, are more at risk of contracting the virus.

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