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100 days and counting

By Staff | Jun 17, 2020

One hundred days — that’s how long Southwest Florida residents have been dealing with COVID-19 in the community.

Local health officials on Wednesday once again reiterated to the community the importance of social distancing and face coverings amidst the report of the highest single-day cases the state has seen since the pandemic began.

The president and CEO of Lee Health, Dr. Larry Antonucci, said he understands that some are growing tired of having to social distance and cover their face while in public, but that doing so will ensure hospitals will continue to be able to serve the needs of the community and will protect the most vulnerable citizens.

“Wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from others must become a normal part of how we live our lives for the foreseeable future,” Antonucci said. “If we embrace the new normal that COVID-19 has taught us to live with, we can ensure that hospitals will continue to have the capacity to save lives and provide safe, compassionate care for all who need it.

“When we leave our homes we must keep a safe physical distance from others as much as possible, and wear a mask or face covering. According to the CDC, cloth masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and other airborne illnesses, by capturing infected respiratory droplets before they can spread to others. At this point, we must assume the coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic carriers, and wearing a mask in public is one of the safest ways to prevent someone who may not even know they are spreading the virus.”

Antonucci said he has been discouraged with what he has seen in public, and said there is a direct correlation between the rise in cases and the community taking a more relaxed stance when it comes to guidelines.

“What I’ve been seeing is that this fatigue is leading to more people not social distancing and not wearing masks,” he said. “I see it when I go out to the store and restaurants, and I believe that this fatigue is a key contributor to the increasing number of cases in our community.”

All in all, Antonucci said there is no way to “sugar coat” that there has been a rise in cases in the community after weeks of seeing numbers flatten and in some instances, decrease.

“Coronavirus is spreading in our community, and we are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in our hospitals,” he said.

Antonucci said he knows the community is wanting to get back to normal, but being cautious when it comes to social distancing and coronavirus guidelines are paramount.

“As Florida moves through Phase 2, each and every one of us must do our part to keep ourselves and our neighbors healthy and safe,” Antonucci said. “With everything we have all been through over the past 100 days, it is understandable that we are suffering from ‘coronavirus fatigue,’ but it is more important than ever to continue to follow the same safety precautions we have been advocating since the start of the pandemic.”

Antonucci said the county’s leading healthcare system has certainly learned a lot about the virus since the first case(s) popped up on Southwest Florida’s radar on March 6. He said Lee Health has learned lessons on how to operate during a pandemic, and noted, “there is still more to learn.”

By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, there are 82,719 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 2,610 since FDOH’s last update Monday morning.

This is the fourth occurrence of single-day cases topping 2,000 in the last week, and the 16th straight day of more than 1,000 new cases reported by the state. Yesterday, the state reported the highest single-day total since testing began: 2,783

More than 25,200 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Tuesday, June 16. Of those reported tests, 10.3 percent tested positive.

The number of tests reported on June 16 is well under the average number of tests the state has completed per day in the last two weeks; which is 36,302 each day.

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

The death toll increased by 25 from 11 a.m. Tuesday to 11 a.m. Wednesday, reported among Lee, Broward, Columbia, Dade, Hendry, Hillsborough, Jackson, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, St. Lucie and Volusia counties.

A total of 1,486,759 individuals have been tested: 1,403,040 have tested negative, 1,000 tests were inconclusive and 1,240 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 12,389 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 3,018 deaths.

The age groups of Florida residents that have yielded the most positive test results are 25-34 years old (17%), followed by 45-54 (16%), 35-44 (16%) and 55-64 (15%).

The highest hospitalization rate is found in patients 65-74 (20%) and 75-84 (19%) years old.

In Lee County, 3,187 individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Wednesday; 1,342 in Fort Myers, 587 in Cape Coral, 736 in Lehigh Acres, 206 in Bonita Springs, 89 in North Fort Myers, 81 in Estero, 20 on Fort Myers Beach, 13 on Sanibel, 11 in Alva, three on Matlacha, two in Miromar Lakes, one in St, James City, one on Captiva, one in Bokeelia, one in Tice, one in Buckingham, one in San Carlos Park and one in Boca Grande. Fifteen 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 137 deaths in Lee County, an increase of one from yesterday. There have been a total of 515 hospitalizations in the county. All but seven deaths occurred in patients over 60. 101 deaths were reported in residents or staff of long-term care facilities.

As of Wednesday, Lee Health had 141 COVID-19 patients isolated in system hospitals. A total of 664 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including seven on Tuesday.

The system has submitted a total of 22,144 specimens for testing, with six results currently pending.

Lee Health’s mobile collection site yesterday collected 198 specimens.

Bed capacity as of Wednesday is at 80 percent, with 11.4 percent of those being COVID-19 patients.

As of Wednesday, 71 percent of ventilators and 29 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