The parent company of Highlands Lake Center in south Lakeland said that COVID-19 financial setbacks has forced it to lay off or furlough nearly 100 employees across its 11 facilities in Florida, The Ledger reported. A laid-off worker from the Lakeland facility who did not want to be identified said 35 employees there lost their jobs. Eighteen residents from the Lakeland Highlands Road center have died from the disease, accounting for just over 50% of Polk deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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