Lee County Sticks with "Suggested" Social Distancing in Spite of Growing COVID-19 Numbers
With one of the highest COVID-19 mortality rates in the state, Lee County leaders decided Monday in an emergency meeting of the Board of County Comisioners, not to mandate stay-at-home orders. Instead, County Commissioners voted unanimously to echo the strong suggestion from the State Surgeon General that people voluntarily stay at home.
After hearing from mayors from Sanibel to Cape Coral to Fort Myers Beach, County Commissioners got an update from Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci, who gave an overview of the situation from a medical perspective: Lee County has one of the top two mortality rates in the state at almost 4 %. The number of infected people in the county has tripled since Antonucci met with the board last week. Many other Florida counties and municipalities with similar statistics have mandated the closure of non-essential businesses and issued stay-at-home orders. But for now, that will not be the case in Lee County.
Much of the meeting was spent congratulating the public for adhering to the suggested social distancing guidelines. Others talked of people not following those guidelines. Almost all who spoke lamented the difficulty of closing businesses already aching from a peak tourism season cut short by this virus.
But in wrapping up his statements, Antonucci said, “a small businessman who suffers due to decisive action will be able to pick up and start again, but the 39-year-old husband and father with two young children, will not. His life has been taken and his family has been forever changed.” Antonuci was talking about Conrad Buchannan, whose friend also addressed the board, urging them to require people stay at home.
Still, commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution which adds nothing to the existing list of suggestions put forward by the Florida State Surgeon General: limiting gatherings to less than ten people and urging people over 65 and with underlying health issues to stay home.