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Lee Health: COVID cases continue to decline

By CJ HADDAD - | Sep 23, 2021

The prodigious increase of new COVID-19 cases throughout Lee County over the past month is starting to subside reported health officials on Thursday.

In a media update, President and CEO of Lee Health Dr. Larry Antonucci said, “We are, thankfully, on the downswing of the COVID-19 surged caused by the Delta Variant that tested our community’s resources but never our resolve. I am thankful for the work Lee Health’s dedicated staff continues to do to care for our patients, and also for the support that the Southwest Florida community has shown us. I am also grateful for the help from state and local leaders for bringing important resources such as monoclonal antibody treatment and increased testing capabilities to our area.”

Antonucci said the encouraging news is not a reason to ease back prevention, as the longer the virus is around, the more likely a chance that a mutation could occur.

“While this surge may be winding down, it does not mean we are out of the woods,” he continued. “The Delta surge is just one of four major surges we’ve seen throughout this pandemic. If we become complacent now, we are putting ourselves at risk for further surges as we head into our seasonal months. The best thing our community can do to help prevent future surges and potential mutations of the coronavirus is to get vaccinated today.”

Lee Health’s free vaccination clinic at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers (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 Thursday morning, Lee Health had 251 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, including 24 new COVID-19 admissions and 21 COVID-19 discharges on Wednesday. Of that total, seven are under the age of 18 being treated at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Since the start of the pandemic, Lee Health has reported 1,125 patient deaths inside its hospitals due to COVID-19 related complications, including seven on Wednesday.

Census as of Thursday morning was at 90% 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 Thursday, 63% of ventilators and 8% of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

As of Thursday, there were 46 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 70 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