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Lee Health/NCH Report Slight Decrease in COVID-19 Patient Volumes

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Officials with the Lee Health and Naples Community Hospital healthcare systems both report a slight decrease Thursday in COVID-19 patient volumes. Lee Health’s four acute care hospitals are currently treating 296 COVID-19 positive patients, which is down from 310 patients Wednesday.

NCH hospitals are treating 111 COVID-19 patients, which is two fewer from the previous day. The positivity rate for tests performed through Lee Health’s labs stands went down from 28% the previous day to 23.8% and NCH’s positivity rate is up slightly to 15%.

During Thursday’s media briefing, Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci discussed ongoing efforts to expand staffing.

“We have a substantial effort underway to bring back seasonal staff early and welcome back employees who are on a leave of absence or a summer sabbatical,” said Dr. Antonucci.

“We have brought in traveling nurses and more are coming in the next two weeks. Since July 6, 57 additional RNs have started working in our hospitals and we have more critical staff starting work each week.”

Meanwhile, NCH spokeswoman Amanda Lucey took the opportunity to highlight the mandatory mask ordinance passed, Tuesday, by Collier County Commissioners.

“We feel strongly about the contribution masks have made in our exceptionally low rate of COVID transmission from patient to staff and most notably our zero-transmission rate from patient to patient,” said Lucey.

“As time goes on and more study results become available, masks have been proven effective in curbing the growth of COVID19 patients. Further there have been no harmful or adverse effects shown from the wearing of masks by the average person.”

58% of Lee Health’s ventilator capacity and 13% of ICU bed capacity are available. At NCH hospitals, 15% of adult inpatient beds and 25% of critical care beds are available with only about 10% of its ventilator supply in use.

Dr. Antonucci also addressed challenges in keeping up with the high volume in COVID-19 tests being needed. “We are asking to please hold off on calling to ask about COVID test results for at least 16 days after you’ve been tested,” said Antonucci.

“Understandably, these longer wait times may cause concern that tests have been lost, but I promise you this is a very rare occurrence.”

Antonucci said Lee Health will be sending some specimens out to commercial labs for testing to help address the high volume.