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Lee Health: Masks still needed at its hospitals

By CJ HADDAD - | May 20, 2021

Lee Health officials are reminding those who enter their facilities, vaccinated or not, need to be masked.

Dr. Stephanie Stovall, Lee Health’s interim chief of Quality and Patient Safety, responded on Thursday to the increasing number of visitors coming to their facilities without a mask.

“Since the start of the pandemic, Lee Health has followed guidance from the CDC on masking and will continue to do so. The recent updated guidelines on masking for fully-vaccinated people do not apply to healthcare settings,” she said. “We continue to require staff, patients and visitors to wear a mask inside all Lee Health facilities to protect our vulnerable population and those who either cannot receive the vaccine or may not have a full response to the vaccine due to their condition.”

Stovall continued by encouraging individuals who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.

Lee Health announced at the beginning of the week they would be accepting walk-in appointments at its vaccine clinic, located at Gulf Coast Medical Center. The vaccine clinic, open 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., is be available for walk-ins until the afternoon of Friday, May 21 for anyone 12 years-old and older. A parent or authorized guardian must accompany a minor for vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccine appointments can still be made online at www.leehealth.org.

Vaccination hub to move mid-June

The Florida Department of Health- Lee County announced Wednesday they will be relocate their COVID-19 vaccination center from the Edison Mall to their offices at 83 Pondella Road in North Fort Myers.

The switch will begin Monday, June 21, and those with existing appointments at the Edison Mall location are not affected by this change. Vaccinations will be administered at the Edison Mall location through Friday, June 18.

Starting May 27, those who receive their first dose at the Edison Mall location will be scheduled to get their second at the DOH-Lee campus in North Fort Myers.

FDOH-Lee officials said the site at 83 Pondella Road will vaccinate eligible individuals by appointment only. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (239) 461-6100 and selecting option 4. People with appointments are asked to arrive 10 minutes early and to print and complete the COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Consent Form to expedite their visit.

By the Numbers

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 2,302,489 total cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Florida, an increase of 2,893 since FDOH’s last update Wednesday.

Test results reported to the Department of Health on Wednesday, May 19, resulted in a 3.92% positivity rate among 88,567 tests.

The state saw its highest daily percentage of positive patients on Dec. 29 when 22.75% percent of tests reported were positive among 62,303 tests.

The average positivity rate in new cases over the last week is 4.27% (4.79% last week).

Of those testing positive, 93,815 Florida residents have been hospitalized at some point during their illness according to the state.

The death toll increased by 77 from Wednesday’s report, bringing the total number of deaths, both resident and non-resident, to 36,999.

According to the state, hospitalizations in Lee County make up 3% of all positive cases. At the state level, 4% of all positive cases result in hospitalization. The percentage of deaths statewide account for 2% of all cases and, in Lee County, stand at 1% of positive cases.

The total number of persons vaccinated as of Thursday throughout Florida was 9,813,737 with 353,527 being in Lee County. According to the state, 7,792,426 individuals have had their vaccine series completed, 287,995 of those being in Lee County.

In Lee County, 72,737 individuals (+176) have tested positive as of Thursday’s update.

Positive COVID-19 cases in the county have ranged from infants to a 103-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 992 deaths in Lee County — an increase of four from Wednesday’s report.

As of Thursday afternoon, Lee Health had 87 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, including nine new admissions and six discharges since Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Lee Health had a 10.4% 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.

A total of 6,211 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from Lee Health facilities since the beginning of the pandemic.

Census as of Thursday afternoon was at 96% of staffed operational bed capacity, with 6.2% 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 Thursday, 72% of ventilators and 17% of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

As of Thursday, there were eight COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 13 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.

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