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Southwest Florida so far suffered five deaths among just under 200 coronavirus cases

The region is home to 2.32 million people.

A significant increase in positive tests for coronavirus brings Southwest Florida cases to nearly 200. And as further testing takes place, that number is expected to continue a steady rise.

At this point, five individuals died from COVID-19 in the region, a significant percentage of the 28 deaths so far statewide.

Those losses include playwright Terrance McNally, The Full Monty writer, who passed away at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. To date, 81-year-old McNally remains the most high-profile American to die from the coronavirus pandemic to date.

Meanwhile in Lee County, which suffered the first coronavirus in the state, there have no been three reported deaths. The most recent was a 67-year-old man receiving treatment at HealthPark Medical Center, according to the News-Press.

The first death came less than a week after the first known coronavirus case in Florida. A 77-year-old woman who had recently traveled overseas was being treated for flu-like symptoms at Gulf Coast Medical Center and died, then tested positive for COVID-19 posthumously. The death marked the first fatality on the U.S. East Coast attributed to the virus.

The other Lee County death was a 77-year-old man also treated at Gulf Coast Medical Center. Health officials have not disclosed if there was any relationship to those cases.

The fifth case in the region came in Manatee County, when a 61-year-old man died at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Southwest Florida, rich in retirement communities, has a higher-than-average number of residents who fall into demographics considered most at-risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those over the age of 65 face more serious complications from COVID-19.

Southwest Florida doesn’t have the same number of cases as South Florida, but has seen a more daunting concentration than most parts of the state, according to the most recent data released by the Department of Health.

A total of 65 people tested positive in Collier County, ranging in age from 17 up to 93.

Lee County has seen 57 positive tests, the youngest a 10-year-old and the oldest age 90.

Sarasota County has seen 34 test positive, with patients ages 21 to 87 confirmed infected.

Another 24 individuals tested positive in Manatee County, ranging from 14 to 81 in age.

Rural counties have seen a greater impact as more tests return. Charlotts County, where one of the earliest positive cases in Florida originated, has seen three test positive. But now, DeSoto and Highlands counties have seen five cases each show up n a short period of time. Notably, all of the cases in those counties have been residents. Four of those were travel-related, with another four under investigation.

Glades, Hardee and Hendry counties have seen no confirmed instances of coronavirus to date.

The region as a whole has 54 currently hospitalized with coronavirus. That includes 19 in Lee, 14 in Sarasota, 11 in Manatee, eight in Collier and one each in Charlotte and Highlands.

The region as whole is home to 2.32 million people. Among that population, 193 have tested positive for coronavirus.

As a comparison, Miami-Dade County remains home to a population of 2.75 million, and had had 616 cases.

At the same time, Miami-Dade has yet to report its first death, an illustration that while the virus isn’t so concentrated in this region, it still poses a greater threat to residents’ lives in a population with a higher median average.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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