Lee Health says they were prepared ahead of time for coronavirus, county taking extra steps

Reporter: Veronica Marshall
Published: Updated:
Lee Health holds news conference on latest coronavirus updates. (WINK News)

Lee Health held a news conference Saturday afternoon at Gulf Coast Medical Center to provide the community updates on Lee County’s coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

Dr. Larry Antonucci, Lee Health president & CEO, and Dr. Stephanie Stovall, infection prevention, provided information.

Lee Health says they were prepared ahead of time to fight the virus and are doing everything they can to be proactive.

Since this strain of coronavirus was identified in December, Lee Health has been monitoring the spread and prepared the health system for an eventual case. The established plans and protocols being followed at this time to limit any further infection. The drills conducted with our clinical staff confirm that we have the appropriate training supplies and equipment in place. All of our plans are in effect. Coronavirus is here in our community and Lee Health is prepared to care for our community over the course of the disease.


The Florida Department of Health announced Friday night that one person in Lee County had died from the virus.

The governor’s office confirmed to WINK News that the person who died was a woman in her 70s. And it’s confirmed she had returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic.

She was brought to the hospital on Wednesday, March 4. Later that evening she was tested and a sample was sent to Miami on Thursday, March 5. That same day, the woman passed away. No one was notified of the death at the time.

The woman’s test came back positive for COVID-19 on Friday and the governor’s office was notified at 6 p.m. Friday.

Saturday morning, FDOH confirmed another presumptive positive case in the county. Lee Health says that person also came into Gulf Coast Medical Center around noon on Wednesday. They are currently isolated in the ICU and being treated.

They could not confirm whether or not those two patients had any relationship to each other.

They say no one else is presumptive positive in their care at this time.

Lee Health also said some of their staff that had been exposed to the virus are being isolated as a precaution and are being monitored closely. They have not shown any signs of infection.

Officials said by law, they are not allowed to release the name of the deceased or the patient being treated or any further details, but did say the FDOH is investigating their travel history and opportunities for exposure.

In addition, the county is taking extra steps to disinfect public areas such as RSW airport, buses, ambulances, taxis, etc.

They will not be activating EOC at this time.

Lee Health emphasized that the overall risk of the community is low, but asks people to take simple precautions to remain healthy such as washing your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water.

A big questions health professional are looking into at Gulf Coast Medical Center are other patients who came in contact with the two individuals tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.

“We have around 30 people who are potential medium or high risk exposures that have all been notified,” said Dr. Stephanie Stovall, a medical director for pediatric infection prevention/epidemiology with Lee Health.

Those people are now in self-isolation and receiving daily checkups.

Virus in SWFL: NCH and Lee Health implement visitor restrictions

In effort to combat coronavirus (COVID-19), NCH Healthcare System and Lee Health, in a joint effort, announced Saturday both Southwest Florida health agencies will implement visitor restrictions at all of its health facilities in the region.

Restrictions are as follows:

  • Respiratory symptoms-cough, runny nose, fever will not be allowed to enter the
  • No one under 12 years of age will be allowed to enter
  • Visitation will be limited to no more than 2 visitors at one time
  • Obstetric/post-partum visitors will be limited to 4 visitors at a time

Per the NCH press release, the health leaders they care deeply about the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community. That’s why we are making the decision to avoid additional traffic and to ensure we are focusing on patient care.

There is currently one patient confirmed presumptivley positive for COVID-19 at Lee Health facility Gulf Coast Medical Center in south Fort Myers. There are currently no cases at NCH health facilities.

Gov. DeSantis directs Divison of Emergency Management to activate Level II response

Governor Ron DeSantis directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to activate to Level II to coordinate the state’s response to COVID-19 and provide critical support to the Florida Department of Health and county health departments.

“I have directed the Division of Emergency Management to activate to Level II to ensure our state has all the necessary resources engaged as we respond to COVID-19,” DeSantis said. “It is critical that we proactively coordinate all state resources to mitigate the threat and contain COVID-19. I urge all Floridians to take necessary precautions and follow hygiene guidelines issued by the Surgeon General and Florida Department of Health.”

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis requests more money to fight coronavirus in Florida


The Florida Department of Health has opened a 24-hour COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.


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