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Lee Co. breaks 4,000 cases, 1 in 50 Hendry residents test positive for COVID-19

Southwest Florida continues to see cases swell.

Lee County now has more than 4,000 reported cases of COVID-19, the Department of Health reports. More than 1,500 of those tested positive for the first time in the last two weeks.

A total of 118 infections were confirmed Wednesday, the seventh time in the past two weeks with more than 100 new cases. The spike comes as the entire state of Florida experiences a surge.

But while the most populous county in Southwest Florida boasts the highest numbers, it is neighboring Hendry County with the worst infection rate. The growing number there raised its own alarms, with one in 50 of the 40,000-plus resident county having tested positive for COVID-19.

A total of 149 Lee County residents have died from the disease, including the first Floridian killed by the coronavirus. The county was also reporting 149 deaths on Tuesday, but the number declined on Wednesday, so it’s unclear if the return to 149 deaths is because of new information or restoration of old data.

The fact deaths have not spiked may be because a much younger demographic of patients is being diagnosed. The median age for new cases on Wednesday was 34 in the county; though it was at 47 just a day before.

Statewide, about 85% of those who die from the coronavirus are older than 65.

The high numbers are also somewhat attributable to more testing. Nearly 1,500 tests for COVID-19 came back in the county on Wednesday, and the 118 positives represent around an 8% positivity rate.

But emergency rooms in the region reported a surge in visits for Influenza-like symptoms from under 100 on June 7 to nearly 250 on June 14. Those reporting COVID-19 symptoms also steadily increased in the same span of time.

Lee County becomes only the seventh county to report more than 4,000 cases. The 4,062 cases are less than a third of those reported in Broward County, for example, and around one seventh of the almost 29,000 cases reported in Miami-Dade County alone.

In Hendry, there were just 13 new cases reported on Wednesday, bringing the total number as of Thursday morning to 810. The county includes part of the Immokalee farmworker community suffering a huge outbreak. About 74% of all individuals diagnosed in the county identify as Hispanic.

About 10% of Hendry cases, 81 people, have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic in Florida on March 1. That’s about a third lower than Lee’s hospitalization rate. A total of 24 residents in the county have died from COVID-19.

Southwest Florida as a whole reported at least six new deaths, including three in Collier County and one each in Highlands, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

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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