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Marion County nurse victim of COVID-19 a dedicated caregiver

Ocala Star-Banner - 8/11/2020

Aug. 10--A nurse at the Marion County Jail who died of COVID-19 complications over the weekend was remembered as a dedicated caregiver and proud father.

Charles "Dan" Manrique, 71, a charge nurse at the jail, was the first health care worker in Marion County whose death has been attributed to the virus. He died on Saturday, according to a news release from the Heart of Florida Health Center, which recently took over healthcare operations at the jail.

"He was a wonderful person. He liked helping people," said Renee Mobley, a dental technician who worked with Manrique since 2007.

"He would be here early, rain or shine. He got along with the inmates. He was firm, but they would listen to him," Mobley said.

A U.S. Army, Vietnam War veteran, Manrique was a native of Ybor City. After the war, he took a job as an orderly at a Tampa hospital. He worked the night shift and took classes during the day, eventually becoming a certified surgical technician before becoming a registered nurse in 1986, according to a July 2004Tampa Bay Tribune article.

The article centered on the release of Manrique's self-published book at the time, a semi-biographical account of his upbringing as a poor child of Hispanic heritage who eventually reaches success despite prejudice and injustice.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a dedicated and talented nurse of the Heart of Florida Health Center's family," said Maria Torres, chief health care administrator.

Manrique would often bring a sack of Burger King cheeseburgers for lunch during his shift. He said he would only eat them at work.

"Dan will be remembered as a HFHC hero. He paid the ultimate sacrifice of taking care of others above all else. Please pray for Dan's family and loved ones through this difficult time," said Jamie Ulmer, Heart of Florida CEO.

Mobley said Manrique was a dedicated father.

"He loved his family. His three sons, they were his pride and joy," she said. "His baby son Matt, he was going to school to be an engineer. That's why he kept on working. He would do anything for those boys."

Manrique also bred quarter horses.

More than 200 positive tests for the coronavirus have been reported in the jail. Currently, there are 22 active cases at the facility. Along with infections at local prisons, this has led a general spike in cases in Marion County in recent weeks.

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County, releases only the age, sex and residence of those who succumb to COVID-19. Through Sunday, the DOH reported 89 deaths due to the virus, accounting for about 1.3% of the reported cases of 6,573 in the county.

-- Contact Carlos E. Medina at


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