by SC Guest Contributor Barbara Joy Cooley
Good news! Lee Health officials report that today (Monday, December 21) is the day they will be receiving the first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine. “We will begin vaccinating employees as soon as possible,” writes the Lee Health Facebook page manager.
Because this first supply is limited, the Lee Health system will start with vaccinating employees with the highest risk of exposure. That includes those who work in the emergency department, intensive care, COVID-19 units, respiratory therapy, and the COVID-19 test collection sites.
These Lee Health employees will go to one of two locations, Gulf Coast Medical Center or Cape Coral Hospital, to receive the vaccine. Although vaccinations are just starting in Lee County, over 32,700 vaccines have been administered in the state of Florida as of today, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
In a December 15 update sent to hospital board members, Lee Health CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci wrote, “I assure you that our team has done an incredible job preparing for vaccine arrival, securing ultracold freezers and putting together an administration plan for our high-risk staff. Beyond that, the situation is rapidly evolving.”
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 numbers in the Lee Health system have evolved upwards during the past week.
The COVID-19 positivity rate (percent of tests that are positive) for the Lee Health test collection sites has increased from 16.2% on December 14 to 24.7% on December 18.
In the Lee Health system, occupancy of hospital beds increased from 85% on December 14 to 95% on December 18. Eleven percent of these beds are occupied by COVID patients.
There have been 127 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 21), there have been 36,795 cases in Lee County, which has a total population of 770,577. So, about 4.8 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.
SOURCES: Lee Health, Florida Department of Health, United States Census Bureau, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Barbara Joy Cooley has a B.S. in Biomedical Communications from The Ohio State University College of Medicine – School of Allied Medical Professions.