by SC Guest Contributor Barbara Joy Cooley
Lee Health, the main hospital system for Lee County, now has both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. At this point, the vaccinations are taking place three days a week in designated rooms at Lee Health’s Gulf Coast Medical Center and the Cape Coral Hospital.
“Lee Health is currently vaccinating its key workers and employees over 65,” said Lee Health board member and Sanibel resident Stephen R. Brown, M.D. “They are preparing to inoculate the general public over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions. Then the general public. Even with the vaccines we will still need to follow current protocols. Personally, I’m excited about Johnson and Johnson vaccine which should be ready in February. ”
COVID-19 numbers in the Lee Health system have trended upward during this last week of 2020.
The COVID-19 positivity rate (percent of tests that are positive) for the Lee Health test collection sites has increased from 25.7% on December 21 to 32% on December 29.
In the Lee Health system, occupancy of hospital beds increased from 83% on December 21 to 92% on December 29. Twelve and a half percent of these beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
There have been 138 cases of COVID-19 among people who call Sanibel and Captiva home. But this does not include cases of COVID-19 among people who work, play, visit, or volunteer on the islands; many or most of them live on the mainland.
As of today (December 30), there have been 38,659 cases in Lee County, which has a total population of 770,577. That’s an increase of approximately 2,000 known cases since December 21. So, about 5 percent of Lee County residents have had COVID-19, as far as is known. An unknown number of people exhibit no symptoms when infected with COVID-19; the virus is only detected when people are tested.
For more information on the incidence of COVID-19 in Florida, click here for the Florida COVID-19 Dashboard. Tabs at the bottom of that web page can be used to find data by county and by zip code.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in Florida, click here. There should be a significant increase in the numbers of vaccinations given every day. In order to vaccinate every American by the end of June 2021, about 3.5 million vaccinations would need to occur daily.
Meanwhile, it is important to continue all precautions such as wearing a mask when you are away from your home. If you visit a Sanibel business where the mask mandate is not being observed, avoid that place and share the information with others so that they, too, may protect themselves from COVID-19 exposure. Since the Governor has declared that individuals may not be fined for violating local mask mandates, the mandates are being violated at a variety of places; sharing information about where those places are may save lives. To date, 21,546 Florida residents have died from COVID-19.
The vaccine distribution program in Lee County was a disaster, and dangerous for Florida’s senior citizens. Other counties, i.e. Charlotte, which required appointments fared much better. What could go wrong when only 300 doses were available yet hundreds more showed up waiting in line without being 6′ apart? Seniors camped out overnight. These vaccine sites were superspreader events when they didn’t need to be. Shame on the FL Dept. of Health in Lee County. Distribution should be orderly and by appointment.
I must disagree with Alison Ward.
My wife and I went to the S.T.A.R.S. Complex in Ft. myers on Tuesday December 29th to get the vaccine.
We arrived at 6:30am. The line was long and well managed. The Ft. Myers police, EMT’s and complex staff were great. They were constantly walking the line and talking with people. They had water and chairs for anyone that needed them. With very few exceptions, everyone was wearing a mask and keeping their distance.
Numbers were given out and when the 600 limit was reached, new arrivals were advised that they reached capacity.
Watching the people leaving after they had their shot was uplifting. They were happy and waving to the people in the line.