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Lee Health can now get quick COVID-19 test results inhouse

By Staff | Apr 7, 2020

Lee Health can now do in-house testing of COVID-19 specimens, expediting the results period from days to mere hours.

President and CEO of Lee Health Dr. Larry Antonucci reported that they were able to do the first rounds of in-house testing Monday.

“Yesterday we began our in-house testing for COVID-19,” Antonucci said Tuesday. “This will ease the frustration of long waits for results, and will help give us a clearer picture of how COVID-19 is moving through our community. Test results will now be ready in hours instead of days. Depending on specimen volume, we will also continue to use commercial labs in addition to in-house testing. This should help us take further steps to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Some solemn news was reported, as Cape Coral Hospital had its first patient succumb to COVID-19.

“I am saddened to report that overnight Cape Coral Hospital had its first COVID-19 death,” Antonucci said. “This virus isn’t just affecting its victims, but also friends and families. The human toll is real and we must not forget that.”

Antonucci told residents it is imperative to continue following social distancing guidelines to continue to see a flattening of the curve.

“Over the past several days we have seen the growth rate of COVID-19 in the state and locally become linear, rather than exponential, which is a good thing,” he said. “It is too early to know if our distancing efforts are working. With COVID-19, we cannot become complacent because this virus spreads so easily and any positive progress can easily rebound.

“Continue to stay home and practice physical distancing except for when it is absolutely necessary to leave the house. When you do have to leave, follow the CDC’s guidelines and wear a mask, preferably homemade or non-medical, to protect yourself in public.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Lee Health had 51 COVID-19 patients isolated in its hospitals. Forty-two patients who had tested positive have been discharged.

Lee Health has submitted a total of 4,554 specimens for testing and has 80 patients under investigation.

The system has 149 employees quarantined at home. Seventeen employees have tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work.

Lee Health mobile collection sites on Monday collected 154 specimens and had a total of 614 telemedicine visits between Lee TeleHealth and MyChart Video.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, there were 14,504 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 875 since FDOH’s last update Monday evening.

The death toll increased by 29 overnight reported among Brevard, Broward, Dade, Duval, Escambia, Hernando, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Sumter counties.

A total of 137,375 individuals have been tested: 122,792 have tested negative, 79 tests were inconclusive and 1,243 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 1,777 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 283 deaths.

Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 11 percent. Of the 12,004 tests performed on April 6, there were 1,407 positive results, or 12 percent.

In Lee County, 434 individuals, ranging from as young as 2 to as old as 100, have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Tuesday; 156 in Fort Myers, 94 in Cape Coral, 65 in Lehigh Acres, 47 in Bonita Springs, 19 in Estero, 14 in North Fort Myers, five in Sanibel, five on Fort Myers Beach, four in Alva and one on Captiva. One positive was not classified by community. There have been 13 deaths in Lee County, all but one age 62 or older. The exception was a 39-year-old man who died March 25.

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 urges 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