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UPDATED: COVID-19 in-patient case average up in Lee County

By Staff | Jun 3, 2020

Health officials on Wednesday told of a “new normal” in Lee County when it comes to COVID-19 cases.

President and CEO of Lee Health Dr. Larry Antonucci said the average number of positive coronavirus patients in the system’s care has continued to hold at a higher threshold than in previous weeks.

Antonucci said while they were housing an average of roughly 80 positive cases each day, that number has now grown to “100 to 110 on average.”

On Wednesday, Lee Health had 118 patients in its care. Tuesday, they had 117. On June 1, they had 107 positive cases in their care.

“Over the last two weeks we have seen a higher number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19,” Antonucci said. “(The rise in cases) was expected as our region slowly and safely reopens. We still have a flattened curve, but we have more people under the curve than we had before.”

Keep in mind the number Lee Health reports nearly each day is their current number of positive patients in facilities at the time of the report. Patients continue to get discharged on a daily basis, and more keep coming in, keeping that average higher than in recent weeks.

While it is a growth in cases, Antonucci said he is thankful the spike has not been greater.

“We evaluate our COVID-19 situation daily, and the trends show that while we are seeing the rise in cases we expected, reopening beaches, restaurants and other businesses has not led to exponential growth of the virus, or a second wave,” he said. “While this does not guarantee what will happen in the future, these statistics show that physical distancing and masking efforts are working and keeping people safe as they leave their homes and mingle with others in the community.”

* Phase 2 starts today

Gov. Ron DeSantis began his “Phase 2” of his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” plan for Florida amidst the coronavirus, which allows bars, movie theaters, tattoo parlors, tanning salons, bowling alleys, arcades and other forms of entertainment to operate at a limited capacity.

Movie theaters, playhouses, arcades and bowling alleys can reopen at 50-percent capacity with social distancing and sanitization protocols.

Those over 65 or with underlying health issues are still encouraged to avoid crowds and take measures to limit their exposure.

All groups in Florida are encouraged to avoid congregating in groups larger than 50.

Retail may now operate at full capacity with “responsible” social distancing and sanitization protocols.

Restaurants may now allow bar top seating with social distancing.

Gyms can now operate at full capacity with “appropriate social distancing and frequent sanitization.”

“We’re really fortunate in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “It’s not like there haven’t been challenges. There obviously are challenges but I think generally speaking, (we) have weathered this better than anyone predicted. The virus isn’t gone. I think that we are testing a lot. We are identifying cases particularly in prisons, among agricultural workers, in areas where you have a lot of congregation, close quarters for a long period of time.”

* Officials say hospital capacity and equipment satisfactory

Antonucci said Lee Health has maintained its patient census between 70- to 80-percent capacity and “continue to have enough ventilators and intensive care beds to meet the health care needs of the community.”

“It is not yet known how long coronavirus will continue to circulate through our population, but we do know this new normal is likely to stay with us for the foreseeable future,” he said. “I am so proud of the flexibility our community has shown in adapting to this new way of living that is saving lives and maintaining the flattened curve that allows health care systems to continue to provide care for those who need it.”

* Sun Splash to reopen Saturday

Southwest Florida’s largest water park, located in Cape Coral, will reopen at 50-percent capacity beginning June 6 at 10 a.m.

The park has put new social distancing and sanitation measures in place, such as more spacing at the ticket booths, attraction lines and restaurant areas, marked by tape; one way traffic in the gift shop; sanitation of public life jackets between uses; more frequent checks and cleaning of the restrooms; and, regular public announcements made over the speaker reminding guests about social distancing, according to a release from the city.

“The CDC has also issued a statement that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools, hot tubs or spas, or water playgrounds with proper maintenance and disinfection,” the release states.

Sun Splash will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Aug. 9 then weekends only through Sept. 27. In addition to daily admission, Sun Splash will be offering swimming lessons beginning June 13, plus Splash Camp and Junior Lifeguard Camp starting the week of June 15.

“The Sun Splash staff is happy to be reopening,” said Sandie Greiner, Waterpark Manager, in a release. “We are excited about having guests in the park again and look forward to hosting youth summer camps and swim lessons.”

Sun Splash is at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd., 2.5 miles north of Veterans Parkway.

For more information, visit www.SunSplashWaterpark.com or call 239-574-0558.

* By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Friday, there are 61,488 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 1,305 since FDOH’s last update Thursday morning.

More than 32,400 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Thursday, June 4. Of those reported tests, 3.4 percent tested positive.

This is the third straight day the state has reported more than 1,000 new cases per day.

The death toll increased by 53 from 11 a.m. Thursday to 11 a.m. Friday, reported among Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, Duval, Escambia, Gadsden, Hillsborough, Indian River, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Sarasota, Volusia and Washington counties.

A total of 1,135,865 individuals have been tested: 1,073,452 have tested negative, 925 tests were inconclusive and 1,193 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 10,794 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 2,660 deaths.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 5 percent.

In Lee County, 2,200 individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Friday; 900 in Fort Myers, 403 in Cape Coral, 497 in Lehigh Acres, 144 in Bonita Springs, 70 in Estero, 66 in North Fort Myers, 12 in Sanibel, 14 on Fort Myers Beach, eight in Alva, three on Matlacha, one on Captiva, one in Bokeelia, one in Tice one in Miromar Lakes and one in Boca Grande. 15 cases were not identified by community.

Positive COVID-19 cases in the county have ranged from infants to a 101-year-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 114 deaths in Lee County, no increase from yesterday. All but five deaths occurred in patients over 60.

As of Friday, Lee Health had 123 COVID-19 patients isolated in system hospitals. A total of 555 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including six on Thursday.

This is the fifth straight day with a rise in patients per day at Lee Health facilities.

The system has submitted a total of 18,707 specimens for testing, with two results currently pending.

Lee Health’s mobile collection site on Thursday collected 182 specimens and had a total of 599telemedicine visits.

Current bed capacity is at 77 percent, with 10 percent of those being COVID-19 patients.

As of Friday, 74 percent of ventilators and 8 percent of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

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.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj