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COVID-19 Morning Report

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Lee Health Says COVID-19 Pandemic “continues to become bleaker by the day”

Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci released a statement, Monday, to alert residents that the coronavirus pandemic in the area is worse than ever.

Monday morning Lee Health reported having 419 COVID-19 patients in the health system’s five hospitals including more than 70 patients in intensive care. As of Tuesday morning, Lee Health reports that number has increased to 455 COVID-19 patients.

Over the weekend, Antonucci said the hospital exceeded its previous record high number of COVID patients from last July by more than 12%.

The Health system reports being at 94% of staffed operational bed capacity and that 93% of ICU capacity is in use.

He urges parents to have their children wear masks to school, which starts today.

Antonucci noted that over the weekend, the state set a record for the number of positive cases at over 23,000, and that 1 in 5 new infections nationwide are occurring in Florida.

Antonucci urges vaccination. "The vaccine is in plentiful supply and available on almost every corner - at Publix, Walgreens, CVS, and other retailers,” said Antonucci.

There is also a Lee Health vaccine clinic, open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. available by appointment or walk-in.

Lee Health officials are holding a media conference on the pandemic and kids going back to school at noon, Tuesday, Aug. 10.

Mobile Morgues Headed to Central Florida

Advent Health in Orlando and Volusia County are in the end phases of purchasing fleets of refrigerated morgues.

Florida Public Radio station WJCT has verified the purchases from the company Mopec. A representative from the company said, "The amount they bought could easily be dispersed throughout several counties."

Pediatricians Release Video Stressing Masks

With school set to start in Collier County this week, local pediatricians released a video yesterday to get the word out about what they are seeing. Pediatricians from practices all over Collier County weighed in with a message: Kids should be wearing masks at school. The doctors report seeing a significant increase in hospitalizations in kids in the last few weeks.

“These are not just positive kids. These are sick kids that are needing the intensive care unit and needing oxygen and other medications like adults.”

That’s Dr. Maria-Isabel Rosas of Kidz Medical Services at NCH Healthcare. She reminds people that the Delta variant of the coronavirus is very infectious: Moreso than Ebola and smallpox.

Dr. Salvatore Anzalone of the Healthcare Networks of southwest Florida adds that facilities are reaching capacity:

“My colleagues and I have seen an overwhelming increase of COVID amongst our children. Our offices are overwhelmed. We implore you to protect your children. Protect our community, and mask up. Please.”

Although Governor Ron DeSantis passed an executive order at the end of July that keeps schools from instituting a mask mandate, it’s clear that the pediatricians on the front lines of the pandemic want kids wearing masks.

Students Return to School Amid Higher COVID Infection Rates than Last Year

Students of public-school districts across Southwest Florida return to the classroom today as Florida remains the epicenter of the current nationwide surge in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Tuesday, Aug. 10 marks the first day of the school year for students in Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Students in DeSoto County schools returned Aug. 5, and the first day back for students in Hendry County schools is Aug. 24th.

A USA TODAY Network analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University shows most children in Florida are returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms in areas where coronavirus outbreaks are much more severe than they were at the start of the previous school year.

The analysis finds that Sarasota County is among five counties in Florida where COVID-19 case data indicates rates of new infection are more than 10 times higher than they were at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Cases were down in six Florida Counties, none of which are in Southwest Florida. In 61 of the state's 67 counties, infection rates are up at least 11.7%.

Prior to the state's Aug. 6th COVID report, Florida saw 13,596 infections in children under 12, who are ineligible to receive any vaccines approved for use in the U.S., and 13,858 cases in students between 12 and 19-years-old.

Following guidance from Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials, in Southwest Florida public school districts, student mask wearing is optional, except for Lee County, where a mask mandate is in place, although parents can opt out by filling out a form.

Leon County school district superintendent Rocky Hanna has decided to defy the Governor's order barring mask mandates, and is now requiring mask wearing.

The AP reports, Gov. DeSantis' office has responded by threatening to withhold salaries from the superintendent and other school district officials.

Manatee County Expands COVID Testing

Officials in Manatee County have reopened a COVID-19 testing site at the Bradenton Area Convention Center at 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto, amid the ongoing surge in new infections and hospitalizations.

The Florida Department of Health in Manatee announced the reopening of the walk-up testing site on Monday.

The Herald Tribune reports, the site will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. offering free COVID PCR and rapid testing options.

Appointments are not necessary, but people wishing to be tested need to bring proof of Florida residency such as a driver's license or utility bill.

The Department of Health in Manatee County also operates a testing site and vaccination clinic at the Palmetto bus station at 1802 Eighth Ave. West, Palmetto, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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