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Lee Health: Stay the course to prevent ‘second wave’

By Staff | Jun 11, 2020

As the state of Florida reported the highest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, heath officials on Thursday once again reiterated the need for the community to continue to follow guidelines.

President and CEO of Lee Health, Dr. Larry Antonucci, said while a spike was expected with the reopening of the state, the virus is not going away any time soon.

“It’s hard to believe we are coming up on 100 days of living with COVID-19 in our community. In a lot of ways it feels much longer” he said. “We are still in the early days of living with the virus. Until we have herd immunity and a vaccine, we are going to have to carefully watch the spread of the virus in our community. That means maintaining the habits that have helped us so far; physical and social distancing, good hand hygiene and wearing a mask or face covering when out in public. These actions are essential to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 that would reverse all of the positive steps we have made as a community.

“We won’t wake up one day to find the coronavirus has disappeared with the flick of a light switch.”

Antonucci said continuing to follow guidelines is to show compassion for your neighbor.

“(Following guidelines) are also signs of compassion for those around us who are elderly, or have existing health issues and much more likely to be hospitalized if they contract COVID-19.”

Antonucci noted the high amount of cases per day coming from the state, and remarked on Lee Health’s rise in patients as well.

He said over the last two weeks, the average number of COVID-19 positive patients in Lee Health facilities has risen from 80, to 110-120 on average per day.

With nearly 100 days of coronavirus comes 100 days of either limited or zero interaction with friends, family and loved ones. Antonucci recognized the difficult emotions the public is combatting.

“I understand why these last 100 days have weighed heavily on a lot of us, and many are experiencing social distancing, or general coronavirus fatigue,” he said. “I understand we want to get back to normal, but we have to stay the course and continue to protect ourselves and each other, because COVID-19 is still in our community.

“I understand that everyone wonders when we’ll be able to return to normalcy, but the fact is the definition of normal has changed. “We are in a new normal and the coronavirus is going to be part of that new normal for months to come.”

Antonucci said going out to eat and gathering with family and friends does not come without risks, but they are risks that can be managed “by following safety recommendations.”

Antonucci said that while seeing an uptick in cases is worrisome, Lee Health is in a much better position than they were when the pandemic began and has the capacity to provide care to all who need it.

He closed with a message to the county to continue to keep COVID-19 in their thoughts while in public.

“While we are currently living with a pandemic, we can enjoy all of the exciting and beautiful things Southwest Florida has to offer, but we must stay vigilant and take steps to protect ourselves and others and embrace what our new normal looks like today.”

By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, there are 69,069 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 1,698 since FDOH’s last update Wednesday morning.

This is the 10th straight day of more than 1,000 new cases reported by the state, and Thursday’s number is the highest report of single-day cases since testing began.

More than 31,400 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Wednesday, June 10. Of those reported tests, 5.5 percent tested positive.

The number of tests reported on June 10 is essentially the average number of tests the state has completed per day in the last two weeks; which is 31,332 each day. Over the last two weeks, there were six other days when the state received more tests than June 10.

The highest number of tests recorded in one day was 57,074 on June 6.

The death toll increased by 47 from 11 a.m. Wednesday to 11 a.m. Thursday, reported among Lee, Alachua, Broward, Collier, Dade, Desoto, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Manatee, Martin, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and St. Lucie counties.

A total of 1,307,728 individuals have been tested: 1,237,679 have tested negative, 980 tests were inconclusive and 1,243 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 11,571 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 2,848 deaths.

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

In Lee County, 2,500 individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Thursday; 1,012 in Fort Myers, 470 in Cape Coral, 571 in Lehigh Acres, 160 in Bonita Springs, 73 in Estero, 71 in North Fort Myers, 12 in Sanibel, 15 on Fort Myers Beach, nine in Alva, three on Matlacha, two in Saint James City, one on Captiva, one in Bokeelia, one in Tice one in Miromar Lakes, one in Buckingham, and one in Boca Grande. Twenty-eight 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 128 deaths in Lee County, an increase of two from yesterday. All but seven deaths occurred in patients over 60.

As of Thursday, Lee Health had 113 COVID-19 patients isolated in system hospitals. A total of 611 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including 15 on Wednesday.

The system has submitted a total of 20,734 specimens for testing, with one result currently pending.

Lee Health’s mobile collection site on Wednesday collected 175 specimens.

Current bed capacity is at 82 percent, with 9 percent of those being COVID-19 patients.

As of Thursday, 75 percent of ventilators and 17 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 urge all members of the public who are at risk to remain at home so as to limit exposure. All others are urged to observe social distancing and to wear a mask for all public interactions.

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