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Lee County reports 8th COVOD-19 death

By Staff | Apr 1, 2020

A seventh patient has died in a Lee Health facility due to the COVID-19 virus, officials reported Wednesday. The patient succumbed to the novel virus Tuesday.

President and CEO of Lee Health, Dr. Larry Antonucci, reported the passing on a conference call roughly an hour after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order asking all Floridians to limit their movements and to leave the home only for an essential service or activity.

“I am saddened to report that yesterday Lee Health had a seventh patient pass away from COVID-19,” Antonucci said on the call. “This is another life that was taken too soon by this devastating disease. I mourn with all of these families, and I want to assure them that our team cared for their loved ones with compassion throughout their entire battle against COVID-19.”

As for the governor’s decision, Antonucci was in support.

“We strongly support this decision, and I was very happy to hear this news,” he said. “This should help tremendously in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Florida. I look forward to hearing the full details of the order when they are released.

“Lives are at stake, and as a community we must do our part by increasing social and physical distancing to prevent as many families as possible from having to lose a loved one. As you go about the rest of your day please keep these families on your mind.”

Lee Health currently has 39 COVID-19 patients isolated in its hospitals with 17 patients having been discharged.

The total number of cases in the county climbed to 212 by Wednesday afternoon, with eight total deaths and 45 hospitalizations.

Throughout the state, 6,955 positive cases have been reported with 87 deaths and 890 hospitalizations according to Florida Department of Health data.

Lee Health has also made an adjustment to their visitation policy at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“Beginning today, Golisano Children’s Hospital is limiting visitation to one parent or support person per patient,” Dr. Antonucci said. “I understand how difficult this can be for parents who have a child in the hospital, but this change is for the safety of the children we care for. We are encouraging families to stay in contact by virtual means like Skype, FaceTime and telephone calls.”

Lee Health currently has 184 employees quarantined at home and eight employees have tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work.

Yesterday, their mobile collection sites at Page Field and Cape Coral Sports Complex collected 186 specimens, and Lee TeleHealth had 144 virtual visits.

Lee Health currently has 230 persons under investigation, and their bed occupancy is currently at 67 percent.

Antonucci also gave an update of medical supplies in Lee Health facilities.

“Certain supplies are currently difficult to come by, but by following CDC guidelines for extended and limited reuse, our employees have the protective gear they need today,” he said. “Yesterday we received a shipment of supplies from the national strategic stockpile, and we expect more supplies from the stockpile in the coming days. We continue to pull out all the stops to get additional supplies and are grateful to those in the community who have been donating their supplies to us.”

As of Tuesday evening a total of 63,400 individuals had been tested for the new coronavirus statewide: 56,644 have tested negative, 15 tests were inconclusive and 1,261 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 857 have been hospitalized and there have been 85 deaths.

Florida’s testing has increased over the past two weeks with the percentage of positives ranging from 7-10 percent. The percentage of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 10 percent.

In Lee County, 198 individuals had tested positive as of Tuesday afternoon – 88 in Fort Myers, 38 in Cape Coral, 24 in Lehigh Acres, 23 in Bonita Springs, seven in Estero, seven in North Fort Myers, three in Sanibel, two on Fort Myers Beach and one on Captiva. Five positives were not classified by community.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious viral disease. For most individuals, symptoms are mild. For a minority, the disease becomes a type of viral pneumonia with severe complications. Especially at risk are those who are older, those with underlying health conditions and the immune-compromised.

Officials strongly urge all members of the public who can, remain at home so as to limit exposure and so limit the number of cases so as to not overwhelm the health care system with at-risk and severe cases.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj