COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Health leaders in Southwest Florida say the increase in new cases was expected, but it’s the jump in the number of hospitalizations that’s alarming.
More Florida businesses opened Friday for phase two of reopening the economy. On top of hitting the gym, people can now go to bars and tattoo shops.
As the number of people in public places increase, so does COVID-19 cases. New Florida cases went from 606 on Monday to 1,200 on Tuesday. There’s 176 new cases in Southwest Florida’s six county from Thursday to Friday.
Kristine Hollingsworth with the Collier Department of Health attributes the jump to more available testing sites.
“We are increasing testing. As you increase testing, it is to be expected that we are going to have an increase in positive COVID-19 patients,” she said.
Some of those testing sites are in Immokalee, a city that has a large Hispanic population. That ethnic group makes up half of the county’s COVID-19 cases. Geraldo Chavez with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers says unfortunately those stats are not surprising.
“People there are poor, they live overcrowded. They travel to work in not very safe conditions many times,” he said. “That’s something that makes them the perfect place for COVID-19 to spread.”
Lee Health’s CEO, Dr. Lawrence Antonucci, says the growing numbers isn’t a spike or a second surge.
“The increases we’re seeing now are nowhere as fast as they were early in the pandemic,” he said.
The flip side to that is the number of severe cases. Dr. Antonucci said Lee County hospitals are actually seeing more severe cases requiring hospitalization now.
“We were averaging 70-80 patients for a number of weeks. And in the last few weeks, that number has crept over 100 and that now is in the 100-120 range,” he said.
Dr. Antonucci added if you’re going to public places, you can protect yourself from the virus by wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.