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Health officials report decline in positive coronavirus cases

By Staff | Jul 27, 2020

Local health officials on Monday reported a decline in cases over the weekend; with some optimistic this may be the beginning of a trend locally.

Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci said he was encouraged by the number of admissions as compared to discharges over the weekend as the system continues to treat a lower average of COVID-positive patients each day. While this is the positive data trend hospitals and residents want to see, he did warn of consequences if the community does not take the virus seriously.

“Over the weekend, Lee Health continued to see a steady decline in the number of coronavirus patients in our hospitals. I remain cautiously optimistic that we may be seeing a trend,” Antonucci said. “However, as we have seen before, it is possible for these numbers to go back in the wrong direction if we let our guard down. More people than ever are wearing masks, and I believe it is no coincidence that we are seeing falling numbers as more people are doing their part to help slow the spread of this virus.”

Antonucci also addressed schools reopening at the end of August and said Lee Health and NCH met with Florida Gulf Coast University President Mike Martin to discuss best practices for students returning in the fall.

“Managing this pandemic continues to be a multipronged effort, and collaborating with our community partners is essential in ensuring the safety of Southwest Florida,” Antonucci said. “I know FGCU is eager to welcome students back to campus as safely as possible, and Lee Health will be there to help support their efforts. We are also here to support FSW and the Lee County School District as they plan for the start of their classes next month. When students return to the classroom the recommendations are the same as the ones we’ve been making for the community as whole. Students should wear a mask or face covering and social distance when in the classroom.”

By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Monday, there are 432,747 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 8,892 since FDOH’s last update Sunday morning.

More than 88,800 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Sunday, July 26. Of those reported tests, 11.39 percent tested positive. Over the last two weeks, the average positivity rate has been 12.58.

The state saw its highly daily percentage of positive patients July 8, when 18.50 percent of tests reported were positive among 51,686 tests.

The death toll increased by 77 from Sunday’s update, reported among Lee, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, Duval, Escambia, Gilchrist, Hendry, Hillsborough, Jackson, Lake, Leon, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter and Volusia counties.

The state reported its largest death toll of 173 on July 23. This does not mean all of the deaths occurred or were reported by local health care facilities on that day but that they were released in the state report that day after reports were processed.

A total of 3,436,270 individuals have been tested: 2,998,750 have tested negative, 4,773 tests were inconclusive and 2,902 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 24,332 Florida residents have been hospitalized at some point during their illness according to the state. There have been 6,049 deaths.

The age groups of Florida residents that have yielded the most positive test results are 25-34 years old (20%), followed by 35-44 (16%), 15-24 (16%) and 45-54 (16%).

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

In Lee County, 14,540 individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Monday; 5,978 in Fort Myers, 3,251 in Cape Coral, 2,872 in Lehigh Acres, 962 in Bonita Springs, 486 in North Fort Myers, 310 in Estero, 85 in Alva, 59 on Fort Myers Beach, 33 in Sanibel (+0), 25 in Bokeelia (+0), 18 in St. James City (+0), 11 in Tice (+0), eight on Matlacha (+0), three on Captiva (+0), three in Buckingham (+0); three in Boca Grande (+0), three in Miromar Lakes (+0), two in San Carlos Park (+0), one in South Fort Myers(+0) and one in Immokalee(+0);151 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 259 deaths in Lee County; 154 deaths were reported in residents or staff of long-term care facilities.

As of Monday, Lee Health had 269 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, including 62 new admissions over the weekend. A total of 1,821 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including 78 over the weekend.

The system has submitted a total of 42,380 specimens for testing with 1,154 results pending.

On Sunday, Lee Health had a 22.5% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests processed through Lee Health Labs. This represents Lee Health results only, not Lee County as a whole. Hospital positivity rates tend to be higher as the tests are performed on patients seeking treatment for a health issue, not the general public that includes asymptomatic individuals.

Lee Health’s mobile collection sites over the weekend collected 1,049 specimens.

Current Census is at 90% of staffed operational bed capacity, with 23% of those being COVID-19 patients. Staffed operational capacity reflects the number of beds for which the hospital has adequate staffing, not the total number of beds within Lee Health hospitals. Overall bed capacity fluctuates hour to hour as the system discharges patients throughout the day who are ready to go home.

As of Monday, 56% of ventilators and 10% of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

There are currently 31 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 42 in the intensive care unit.

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