LEE COUNTY — Dr. Larry Antonucci at Lee Health says the hospital system could be out of beds by the end of the month.
He says COVID-19 patients in Lee Health hospitals have tripled in just the past month.
“We have a spike in cases, and the spike is growing fast," said Dr. Antonucci in a call with reporters Friday.
It's the first time in weeks Dr. Antonucci has told reporters he’s worried about the hospital system’s capacity to manage the growing number of COVID-19 patients.
“At our current rate, Lee Health hospitals will be completely full by the end of the month," said Dr. Antonucci.
Dr. Loureen Downes at Florida Gulf Coast University says that message should be a wake up call to everyone in southwest Florida.
“It really indicates that we do not have containment of this virus at this time. It has increased exponentially really," said Dr. Downes.
But both Dr. Downes and Dr. Antonucci said they would not endorse any type of policy proposal.
“No one person, law, or mandate can stop the spread of the virus," said Dr. Antonucci.
But this week, a group of researchers, led by professors at Harvard University, disagreed. They put out this map online, showing which counties in the United States were seeing the highest spread.
Lee, Collier, and Hendry counties were all in red, which means the researchers are calling for a stay at home order in those areas. Dr. Downes explained why that would be difficult.
“Individuals do not want to be told what to do, and many people need to understand psychologically that it’s not necessarily a matter of being told what to do. It’s a matter of life and death," said Dr. Downes.
Without a state or county mandate in place, Dr. Antonucci says it’s everyone’s responsibility to basically act like they’re under quarantine.
“Limit leaving your home unless necessary, and when you do leave, wear a mask," said Dr. Antonucci.
For the holiday weekend, the Florida Department of Health is recommending that people keep their gatherings to 50 people or fewer, but Dr. Antonucci said he would take that even farther, limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people.