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Hendry County is starting to see COVID-19 cases. Here's what they're doing about it.

Hendry County is starting to see COVID-19 cases. Here's what they're doing about it.
Posted at 8:39 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 20:39:25-04

HENDRY COUNTY — As COVID-19 continues to spread, it’s starting to show up even in the most rural parts of Southwest Florida.

Hendry and Glades counties just saw their first cases in the past week, and the Hendry Regional Medical Center is doing what it can to prepare for even more. As you walk into the hospital, you’re now greeted by a screening station where they ask people where they’ve traveled in the last 14 days, and if anyone they know has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Then, if necessary, they give them a protective mask, but C.E.O. R.D. Williams said it’s those medical supplies that he worries about.

“It’s been a real challenge to acquire and maintain the supplies of personal protective equipment," said Williams.

Williams said he is confident that Hendry Regional is stocked right now, and he has a delivery of more supplies on the way, but cases could grow fast. Hendry County has confirmed four new cases in just the past week, with two of those people requiring hospitalization. In addition to supplies, Williams also worries about how many doctors and nurses they have available.

“Right now, we do not have dedicated staff that are only taking care of the patients under investigation, because we still have a significant number of patients who are not under investigation," said Williams.

And if a COVID-19 patient eventually needs a ventilator or help from an expert, Hendry may not have what they need.

“Specialists for infectious disease, pulmonology, cardiology, those types of things. We don’t have those types of physicians on our staff. So if the patient needs that type of specialty intervention, most times they will be transferred to a higher level of care," said Williams.

As of right now, Hendry is still waiting on the results from 40 patients it's tested, and Williams said, he expects the pandemic to get worse before it gets better. He said he was told COVID-19 cases could peak sometime in mid-May, so his hospital is prepared to keep these safety measures in place at least until then.