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Golisano Children’s Hospital reports increasing number of kids being treated for COVID

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | Aug 10, 2021

Seven days, 19 deaths.

That is the grim count of coronavirus deaths at Lee Health this past week as the pandemic has gripped the health care center’s Lee County hospital over recent weeks in a way the hospital’s leaders didn’t foresee.

On Tuesday, the patient count at Lee Health for those with COVID-19 rose to 455, eclipsing the previous high for the health care center recorded Monday when there were 419 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

The worst part is those being hospitalized are getting young. Children, infants, babies just a few months old are arriving at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to be treated for the coronavirus as the spread of the Delta has led to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida, particularly among those not vaccinated.

“It’s important to recognize that during this entire pandemic we would average one or two children at Golisano Children’s Hospital with COVID. Today we have 14 patients – 14 children that are sick enough to be in the hospital here in Golisano and four of them are in the intensive care unit. This is a different disease. The Delta variant is different than what we face last year. It is much more contagious. It is affecting children at a higher rate,” Lee Health President and CEO Larry Antonucci said Tuesday.

“We want to do everything we can to protect our children as school begins,” Antonucci said.

Of those hospitalized for COVID-19 Tuesday at Lee Health, 80% have not been vaccinated. Those experiencing the worst symptoms are those who haven’t been vaccinated.

As part of a back to school press conference held Tuesday at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Lee Health officials expressed support for the new policy of Lee County School District requiring masks for students though allowing parents to opt out by signing a consent form.

As the press conference ended, two women carried a baby in a cradle into the hospital.