Lee Health to meet with county commissioners Monday
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Some political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus. But some scientists have challenged their accuracy. (NIAID-RML via AP)

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The meeting comes as the county considers a stay-at-home order.

Lee Health President Larry Antonucci said health system representatives will meet with the Lee County Commission tomorrow to share their model on the spread of the new coronavirus.

“COVID-19 is spreading exponentially across our country, and it will continue to do so if we do not enable, encourage and enforce social distancing. We are again meeting with the Lee County Board of County Commissioners tomorrow morning, and we will again share our predictive model to estimate the spread of cases over the coming weeks,” Antonucci said in a prepared statement

The meeting comes as the commission considers issuing a stay at home order for the county. Lee County has already closed beaches, pools, libraries, walkup lobbies and counters in most public buildings.

Commissioners last week considered draft language for a stay-at-home order, as well as restrictions closing nonessential businesses, but put off any vote until at least Monday. Many Florida cities and counties have issued stay-at-home orders or implemented other strategies to slow down the spread of the virus.

“Lee Health does not, and cannot, dictate public policy to directly mitigate this spread, but is unambiguously committed to seeking additional social distancing measures. In addition to asking our local leaders to act we are asking everyone in our community to heed our advice to stay home. Please encourage your families, neighbors and friends to limit contact with others, avoid people who are coughing or sneezing, and stay home to slow the rate of spread in our community,” Antonucci said.

“We are overwhelmed by our community’s support of our health care workers. We are asking everyone to do their part to slow the spread so that our community can get back to normal as quickly as possible. Without these dramatic actions, we are deeply concerned for our community’s well-being. We appreciate your support and thank you for doing your part.”

As of Sunday Morning, the Florida Department of Health reported 4,246 confirmed coronavirus cases and 56 deaths across the state. Lee County has had 124 cases and six deaths, including both the first death and the youngest death in the state.

Lee Health as of Sunday afternoon had 23 COVID-19 patients isolated in its hospitals. A total of 91 of the 124 Lee County positive cases were tested in Lee Health facilities since March 6.

But with treatment requiring health professionals be exposed to patients, 136 Lee Health employees at the moment are quarantined at home.

And county officials have discussed a 34-year-old nurse in the system who is currently on a ventilator after exposure to the virus at the workplace.

The county has a specimen collection site set up at the Page Field public airport in Fort Myers in addition to its hospitals.

Antonucci stressed the community has been supportive and largely listened to guidelines.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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