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‘Grim milestone:’ COVID-related deaths reported by Lee Health top 1,000

By CJ HADDAD - | Sep 8, 2021

COVID-related deaths reported at Lee Health facilities surpassed 1,000 Tuesday.

Lee Health on Tuesday reported 14 COVID-19 deaths in their hospitals, bringing the total to 1,005 since the start of the pandemic. Southwest Florida’s largest healthcare system reported its first COVID-19 death on March 5, 2020 — the first COVID death in the state of Florida.

“In the year and a half that has followed, hundreds of families in our community have lost loved ones to this devastating virus,” said Lee Health spokesperson Jonathon Little in an email Wednesday. “Every death from this virus is heartbreaking, and hitting this grim milestone puts into perspective how widespread the devastation that COVID-19 has brought to our community. This has also taken a toll on our dedicated health care workers, who have seen more death than at any other point in their careers. Lee Health is asking our community to please keep our health care workers and the family members of those who have lost their lives in your thoughts and prayers this week.”

On Wednesday, Lee Health reported it has 95 patients intensive care units.

“We sadly know that a lot of these patients will never make it home,” Little said. “While we are cautiously optimistic that we have reached the peak of the current Delta variant outbreak, we are still caring for more patients than we did last summer. Please also keep these patients on your mind today as they fight for their lives against the coronavirus. Lee Health is thankful for all of the support that Southwest Florida has shown us during this pandemic.”

Lee Health’s free vaccination clinic at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers at 13681 Doctors Way is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Individuals looking to become vaccinated can visit www.LeeHealth.org or call 239-343-0999 to schedule an appointment. A parent or guardian must accompany a minor.

By the numbers

As of Wednesday morning, Lee Health had 522 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, including 56 new COVID-19 admissions and 61 COVID-19 discharges on Tuesday. Of that total, 14 are under the age of 18 being treated at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Since the start of the pandemic, Lee Health has reported 1,005 patient deaths inside of their hospitals to COVID-19 related complications, including 14 on Tuesday.

Census as of Wednesday morning was at 98% of staffed operational bed capacity. 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 Wednesday, 41% of ventilators and 2% of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

As of Wednesday, there were 82 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 95 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.

With the number of COVID-19 cases again climbing due, in part, to the latest mutation of the virus, the CDC is recommending that even vaccinated individuals “maximize protection from the Delta variant and possibly spreading it to others” by wearing a mask indoors in public in areas “of substantial or high transmission.”

The CDC also recommends masks for those at high risk of serious illness from COVID, those with compromised immune systems, those who are older, and those with underlying medical conditions.

Vaccination is highly urged.

For more detail on Florida resident cases, visit floridahealthcovid19.gov.

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