When it comes to the pandemic, Dr. Michael Mina at Harvard says think of the country as a fall forest with dry leaves collecting on the ground.
“You can either have a few sparks start it on fire, and you can hopefully contain each of those fires as they come about, or you can have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of sparks that all light simultaneously on that forest floor,” Mina said.
Lee County is no different.
“Within the last month or so, we have seen our numbers steadily rising,” said Dr. Alex Daneshmand, the chief quality and safety officer with Lee Health. “We actually were somewhere around 60 to 70 cases that we were seeing being hospitalized daily. And now we’re seeing that number rising to low nineties.”
Dr. Brian Fisher, who studies COVID-19 case projections with PolicyLab in Philadelphia, adds the current rate of transmission, plus the upcoming holidays and people returning from the north, could cause cases to flare up and overwhelm hospitals.
“This virus continues to get us caught off guard all the time. Things change on a weekly basis, potentially on a daily basis,” Fisher said. “That’s enough fuel that if you add any more kindling to that fire, it will ignite again.”
Lee Health says 91% of its 1,400 beds are in use. Among those using them, 6% are COVID-19 patients. The hospital system said that’s normal. It plans to add workers and open up more beds once season gears up.
“As these numbers rise, obviously, it requires more resources, more beds, more staffing,” Daneshmand said.
Daneshmand says we have a chance to escape the figurative flames of COVID-19.
“If our community heeds the call of masking and really respecting that six feet distance and washing hands thoroughly, I think we will see flattening of that curve,” Daneshmand said.
“We’re not trying to stoke fear,” Fisher said. “We’re just trying to stoke reality.”