Lee Health, NCH say they’re prepared for ‘expected’ rise in SWFL COVID-19 cases

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

There is an expected uptick in coronavirus cases in Southwest Florida, local health agencies confirm. And hospitals say they are prepared for it.

NCH Healthcare System is especially focused on Immokalee. NHC is working with people who live in the city to educate them, providing donated supplies and masks to stop the spread.

Lee Health says it will constantly monitor hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Lee Health says the rise in regional cases is expected, and its hospitals are prepared for more patients. Lee Health says it’s also expecting coronavirus fatigue.

During a Lee Health phone call Thursday, health system leaders wanted to be clear the rise in cases are not part of a second wave of COVID-19 in Southwest Florida.

“This increase in cases was expected as restaurants, beaches and businesses reopened,” said Dr. Larry Antonucci, the CEO and president of Lee Health. “And, with the pent-up demand for retail services, many people were out and about.”

Four weeks ago, Lee Health says its hospitals kept about 80 coronavirus patients a day. For the past two weeks, hospitals kept about 110 to 120 a day.

“Going out to eat or enjoying fellowship with friends and family does not come without risk,” Antonucci said. “But these are risks that can be managed by following safety recommendations.”

And managing risk is the key said Dr. Rebekah Bernard, the incoming president of Collier County Medical Society.

“I think this is a good time to start trying to get out to do a little bit more activities to visit with close friends and family,” Bernard said. “But maintaining precautions, keeping a distance.”

But this is a distance that some can’t keep on the job. That’s why NCH says it’s sending supplies to those in Immokalee who may work in close quarters.

“We donated supplies and thousands of masks to the department of health and the community foundation earmarked specifically to go to the most vulnerable citizens and field workers in Immokalee,” said Jonathan Kling, the NCH chief nursing officer.

Lee Health just started allowing visitors into its hospitals.

Meanwhile, NCH visitors would only be allowed for circumstances involving a child, compassionate care or end-of-life situations.

Dr. Bernard says, to do your part and keep Southwest Florida’s current increase from surging into a wave, keep up all precautions.

“I think we need to be even more vigilant into the fall and into the winter when our friends from up north come back down,” Bernard said. “Because, then, we’re probably going to see an increase.”

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.