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Lee Health: Numbers do not lie

By Staff | Jun 26, 2020

Numbers do not lie. That was the message from Lee Health President Dr. Larry Antonucci today as he addressed the spike in COVID-19 cases locally and throughout the state of Florida.

Over the last few weeks, cases in Florida have risen drastically. The state saw positive tests for nearly 14,000 residents in just the last two days alone. From June 19-26, 34,606 tested positive for coronavirus.

“We are at a critical point in our battle against the coronavirus. Numbers don’t lie,” he said. “Coronavirus is spreading throughout Southwest Florida, and we are seeing more hospitalizations and a higher positivity rate than ever before,” Antonucci added. “Today we have more than 200 people in our hospitals and nursing homes with COVID-19. Just before Memorial Day, we had 80. This is a significant increase, and as a community, we have the power to reverse this trend. Together, we have the power to save lives.”

A hot topic around the country as places begin to reopen – and in some instances, shut back down due to cases increasing – has been the wearing of a mask or face covering. Antonucci said they are an essential part of slowing the virus down in the community, coupled with social distancing, and they are paramount in protecting others even if you do not feel ill or show symptoms of the virus.

“The evidence is clear; masks help slow the spread of the virus causing COVID-19,” he said. “It is within our control to protect ourselves, our friends, our families and our neighbors. When I go out, I see fewer and fewer people wearing masks and practicing safe physical distancing. The threat of this virus is as real as it has ever been, and complacency is not an option.

“We can safely resume normal activities by taking personal responsibility for ourselves and the safety of others,” Antonucci added. “Any one of us can be an asymptomatic carrier who inadvertently infects an older or unhealthy person with disastrous results. Wearing a mask lowers everyone’s risk of unwittingly spreading the coronavirus to another.”

He asked that everyone in the Southwest Florida community wear a mask and social distance when they are out in public.

“These are the reasons I wear a mask, and now I’m asking everyone in our community to wear one too,” Antonucci said.

While Southwest Florida residents did their part in the early stages of the virus to combat the spread, he said as the state began to open, more and more individuals have not been taking the precautions necessary to mitigate transmission. Antonucci said now is the time to step up once again.

“I was so impressed by the way Southwest Florida responded in the early days of this pandemic, and those actions temporarily prevented the exponential growth of the virus and for a while flattened the curve,” he said. “It is time to step up again for the safety of friends and strangers alike.”

Antonucci said he understands that residents are becoming stir-crazy and want to be able to get back to the way things were before the pandemic reached the community, but wearing a mask or face covering is a small price to pay when it comes to the big picture.

“We all want to enjoy life – go shopping, eat out and visit with our friends. But as we do these things, we must take precautions to stay safe,” he said. “Until there is a vaccine, we should assume anyone, even if they have no symptoms, could be carrying the coronavirus. I understand wearing a mask can be uncomfortable or inconvenient, but it is a small, temporary inconvenience that saves lives.”

Lee Health has launched a new public service campaign called “I Wear a Mask Because” to engage the community in wearing masks and sharing their reason why. The public is asked to “help us spread this life-saving message” via social media or by submitting their pictures to www.LeeHealthStrong.org.