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Lee Health: Numbers don’t lie

By Staff | Jun 26, 2020

Numbers don’t lie.

That was the message from Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci Friday morning as he addressed the spike in COVID-19 cases here locally and throughout the state.

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

“We are at a critical point in our battle against the coronavirus. Numbers don’t lie,” Antonucci said. “Coronavirus is spreading throughout Southwest Florida, and we are seeing more hospitalizations and a higher positivity rate than ever before. 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 masks or face coverings are an essential part of slowing the virus down in the community, coupled with social distancing, and is paramount in protecting others even if you don’t feel ill or show symptoms of the virus.

“The evidence is clear; masks help slow the spread of the virus causing COVID-19,” Antonucci 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. 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.”

Antonucci has 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,” he said.

While Southwest Florida residents did their part in the early stages of the virus to combat the spread, Antonucci said as the state began to open, more and more individuals have not been taking the precautions necessary to mitigate transmission. He 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. 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 this pandemic reached the community, but that 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,” Antonucci 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.

Antonucci asked to the public to “help us spread this life-saving message” via social media, or by submitting your pictures to www.LeeHealthStrong.org.

By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Friday, there are 122,960 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 8,942 since FDOH’s last update Thursday morning.

Test results reported Friday are the highest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases in the state since testing began more than 3,000. This comes after consecutive days of more than 5,000 new cases, which at the time were records.

Friday marks the 25th straight day of more than 1,000 new cases reported by the state.

More than 71,400 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Thursday, June 25. Of those reported tests, 13.05 percent tested positive.

The number of tests reported on June 25 is the highest number of tests the state has completed in one day, the second straight day this feat has been achieved. Over the last two weeks, the state has averaged 40,840 tests each day.

The death toll increased by 39 from 11 a.m. Thursday to 11 a.m. Friday, reported among Lee, Alachua, Broward, Clay, Dade, Escambia, Hillsborough, Lake, Martin, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk and Washington counties.

A total of 1,770,081 individuals have been tested: 1,645,925 have tested negative, 1,196 tests were inconclusive and 1,752 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 13,987(+212) have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 3,366 deaths.

The age groups of Florida residents that have yielded the most positive test results are 25-34 years old (19%), followed by 35-44(16%), 45-54 (15%), and 15-24 (15%).

The highest hospitalization rate is found in patients 65-74 (19%), 75-84 (18%) and 55-64 (17%) years old.

In Lee County, 4,062 (+695) individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Friday; 2,093 in Fort Myers (+356), 839 in Cape Coral (+94), 1,055 in Lehigh Acres (+135), 292 in Bonita Springs (+40), 139 in North Fort Myers (+18), 111 in Estero (+9), 26 on Fort Myers Beach (+4), 16 in Sanibel (+3), 16 in Alva (+4), four on Matlacha (+0), four in Bokeelia (+1), three in Tice (+0), two in Miromar Lakes (+0), one in Saint James City (+0), one on Captiva (+0), one in Buckingham (+0), one in San Carlos Park (+0) and one in Boca Grande (+0). Thirty-seven 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 152 deaths in Lee County, an increase of three from Thursday including girl who had just turned 17. There have been a total of 582 (+7) hospitalizations in the county. All but eight deaths occurred in patients over 60; 111 deaths were reported in residents or staff of long-term care facilities.

As of Thursday, Lee Health had 172 COVID-19 patients isolated in system hospitals. A total of 789 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including 31 on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Lee Health had 186 patients in its care with COVID-19.

The system has submitted a total of 25,906 specimens for testing, with 99 results currently pending.

Lee Health’s mobile collection site on Wednesday collected 294 specimens.

Bed capacity as of Thursday is at 78 percent, with 14.3 percent of those being COVID-19 patients.

As of Thursday, 71 percent of ventilators and 23 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

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj