Lee Health sees increase in COVID-19 patients, urges public vigilance

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

Lee Health says it now has more than 100 patients with the coronavirus at the hospital system. We spoke to Dr. Larry Antonucci, Lee Health’s president and CEO, Tuesday about the new numbers.

Antonucci says people are getting too relaxed with the guidelines. They are letting their guards down, and they are going to gatherings. He worries about what could happen if the upward trend continues into the holidays and the busy season.

The steady increase in COVID-19 patients filling rooms at Lee Health hospitals is hard for Antonucci to miss.

“About a month ago, we had about 40 to 50 patients in the hospital with COVID-19, and over the past month, we’ve seen a steady increase now to where we have 101 patients with COVID,” Antonucci said.

The reasons behind that increase and the more than 24% positivity rate the hospital reported Monday is clear Antonucci.

“It would make sense that as people are socializing more and being together more and especially if they’re letting their guards down, that we’re going to see more cases,” Antonucci said.

That’s not something COVID-19 survivors such as comedian John Loeber are excited to hear. His time being treated for COVID-19 at Gulf Coast Medical Center is still fresh in his mind. Like many others, he’s still fighting the lingering effects.

“We survived it, but we are still dealing with it physically and mentally months and months after we’ve so-called recovered,” Loeber said.

With the holidays upon us and season gearing up, Loeber and Dr. Antonucci both say it’s critical that we work together to prevent a surge that would overwhelm our hospitals and leave more people suffering.

“In season, we tend to be pretty full,”” Antonucci said. “If we were to get another surge of [200] to 300 COVID patients on top of our normal volume, it would be a challenge for us.”

“It’s just too risky. If you survived the first six to seven months of this pandemic without getting it, I think that’s great,” Loeber said. “But also consider yourself lucky, and don’t let your guard down. You don’t want this virus.”

Antonucci told us this uptick we are seeing is not as bad as the spike we saw in June, when Lee Health was seeing about 300 COVID-19 patients daily. He told us we brought the hospitalization numbers and case numbers down then, so he’s confident we can do it again.

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