homepage logo

Lee Health CEO calls coronavirus hospitalizations troubling trend

Coronavirus cases continuing to increase countywide, statewide

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Nov 5, 2020

Lee Health CEO Larry Antonucci

Lee County’s confirmed COVID-19 positives rose from 22,711 on data reported Monday, Oct. 26 to 23,834 on Monday for an increase of 5% over the seven-day period. The previous week-to-week increase in new cases was 3%, according to figures provided by the Florida Department of Health.

On Fort Myers Beach, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases climbed from 97 to 101 over the same period. As of Wednesday, there have been 102 COVID-19 cases tallied in Fort Myers Beach since the beginning of the pandemic. The town has largely kept pace with Lee County in the rate of increase that has been reported for COVID-19 over the past several months.

Statewide, the number of confirmed positives for COVID-19 rose from 778,636 last week to 812,063 for the seven-day period on data released Monday by the Florida Department of Health. The latest data represents a 4.3% increase over the previous week, when the week-to-week change was 2.9%. By Wednesday, the number of coronavirus cases had grown statewide to 821,123.

The number of deaths related to the coronavirus rose statewide rose from 16,632 on Oct. 26 to 17,231 on figures reported Wednesday. The death reports don’t necessarily mean they occurred on those days but that is when they were processed in state reports.

In Lee County, the number of deaths rose from 506 on Oct. 26 to 523 on data reported Wednesday. The most recently recorded deaths from COVID-19 in the county was an 87-year-old female on Oct. 24 and a 69-year-old male on Oct. 26.

At Lee Health, there were 84 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, up from 60 reported the previous Monday and up from 48. The hospital’s patient counts have fluctuated over the past month, and the hospital’s COVID-19 patient count rose to 86 on Thursday.

On Oct. 2, there were 42 patients isolated at Lee Health hospitals for COVID-19, meaning the current number of those hospitalized for COVID-19 at Lee Health hospitals has doubled since then.

There were 30 patients admitted for COVID-19 at Lee Health over the weekend and another 12 admitted on Wednesday. On Thursday, another 13 COVID-19 patients were admitted.

Lee Health CEO Larry Antonucci issued a statement on Wednesday urging the public to continue mask-wearing, social distance and wash hands due to the increase in cases and hospitalizations.

“We have been observing a troubling trend over the last several weeks. The number of patients in our hospitals with COVID-19 is on the rise,” Antonucci said.

“While we have not matched the peak we experienced in July, when our hospitals were nearly overrun with cases of COVID-19, now is the time to recommit ourselves to take the steps we know reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“At the risk of sounding like a broken record – because I’ve said this repeatedly over the course of the pandemic – the safest way for our community to protect themselves and others is to wear a mask, practice physical distancing and regularly wash your hands. I repeat these things because they are proven to work. If we do see a surge in cases similar to that of July, community resources will be stretched. At the height of season, hospital capacity is regularly over 95% during normal times, and a rash of COVID-19 cases could pose severe challenges.


“I am calling on our community to act now. While we have seen a growth in cases, it has so far been a slow growth. Researchers are getting closer to a vaccine, but until then we have to take our safety into our own hands. Wear your masks, physically distance as much as possible when in public or at holiday gatherings and wash your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water anytime you come in contact with high touch surfaces.


“As your community partner in health, we are here to care for you if you get sick, but controlling a pandemic takes a community-wide effort. Southwest Florida has been a beacon of hope over the last nine months. When the situation looked dire, we came together and reversed worrisome trends. Today, I am asking you to stop the potential surge before it happens. If we become complacent it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when we see a large spike in cases.


“We are counting on our entire community to proactively protect themselves and their neighbors this holiday season,” Antonucci said.