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Drive-thru COVID-19 testing now available in Lee County

By Staff | May 6, 2020

No appointment necessary testing for COVID-19 is now available for Lee County residents. That’s if you’re willing to wait.

On Monday, through a partnership with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida National Guard, Lee County and Collier County, the state opened a drive-thru, community-based COVID-19 testing site at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

Residents also know this as the home of the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (formerly the Miracle) and spring home of the Minnesota Twins.

Testing began Monday for individuals over the age of 18 regardless of symptoms. The test site is drive-thru only. Individuals being tested will not be permitted to exit their vehicle. No prescription is required.

Lee County sent out an update Tuesday recommending guidelines for those who wish to be tested and what they can expect.

According to the release, the wait time is approximately two hours from processing time at the front gate to the final test tent. You must bring a valid photo ID if you want to be tested.

A mask or face covering must be worn to the site and you must stay in your vehicle at all times, windows closed. Those who are tested will be directed when to roll down their window. You must have a functioning window, as vehicle doors must stay closed at all times.

The county warned residents to make sure their fuel tank has the appropriate amount of reserve to last a long time.

Those who need medication should bring it with them in their car. The county also recommended bringing your own water or snacks.

The testing site is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Please do not line up cars outside the gate,” asked the county in their release. “Be patient, be kind, the people who choose to be tested are people who believe they might have the COVID virus, so keeping the workers safe is important.”

The site will support residents of both Lee and Collier counties.

CenturyLink Sports Complex is at 14100 Ben C. Pratt/ Six-Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers, 33912.

By the numbers

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, there are 37,439 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 542 since FDOH’s last update Sunday morning.

More than 23,800 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Monday, May 4.

The death toll increased by 72 from 11 a.m. Monday to 11 a.m. Tuesday, reported among Lee, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, Escambia, Flagler, Hendry, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Suwannee and Volusia counties.

A total of 466,288 individuals have been tested: 428,252 have tested negative, 597 tests were inconclusive and 1,265 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 6,330 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 1,471 deaths.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 8 percent. On May 4, 2.6 percent of new cases tested positive.

In Lee County, 1,160 individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Tuesday; 461 in Fort Myers, 210 in Cape Coral, 241 in Lehigh Acres, 91 in Bonita Springs, 50 in Estero, 37 in North Fort Myers, 10 in Sanibel, 10 on Fort Myers Beach, six in Alva, one on Captiva and one in Boca Grande.

Positive COVID-19 cases in the county have ranged front infant to 100 years old. Lee County saw its first two cases on March 7, when a man and a woman, each 77, tested positive. They had traveled to the Dominican Republic.

There have been 49 deaths in Lee County. All but two between the ages 61 to 96, with 43 aged 65 or older. The exception was a 39-year-old man who died March 25 and a 52-year-old male who died April 30.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Lee Health had 95 COVID-19 patients isolated in system hospitals, an increase of eight from their last update Friday afternoon. A total of 264 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including 14 on Monday.

The system has submitted a total of 11,616 specimens for testing

Lee Health mobile collection sites on Monday collected 146 specimens and had a total of 1,185 telemedicine visits between Lee TeleHealth and MyChartVideo.

Lee Health has 197 employees quarantined at home, up 34 from Friday. Twenty-seven employees currently are positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work, up from three on Friday.

Current bed capacity is still at 66 percent, with 9 percent of those being COVID-19 patients.

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.

For more detail on Florida resident cases, visit the live DOH Dashboard.

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control, visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, visit the travel advisory website.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-866-779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

Lee Health celebrates

National Nurses Week

From May 6-12, Lee Health will honor and recognize the contributions made by nurses through a variety of virtual activities, videos and social posts as part of National Nurses Week.

“This year, more than ever, we are reminded of the selfless and heroic acts our nurses perform on a daily basis,” said Lisa Sgarlata, DNP, FACHE, Chief Patient Care Officer and Chief Nurse Executive, in a release. “They put themselves on the front lines and we are grateful for the sacrifices they make to ensure our patients receive the best care possible. We cannot thank them enough for their patience, professionalism, hard work and dedication. We are a stronger community because of their commitment to excellence.”

This year’s theme created by the International Council of Nurses is: “Nurses: A Voice to Lead -Nursing the World to Health.”

This theme will demonstrate how nurses are central to addressing a wide range of health challenges.

The week ends on May 12, appropriately enough on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the English nurse recognized as the founder of nursing birthed from her work during the Crimean War.

According to the release, “The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse and Midwife” to mark the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. National Nursing Associations throughout the world are organizing local events throughout the year to celebrate the profession and demonstrate its unique position in the healthcare landscape.”

– Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj