Lee Health specialists share progress on Covid-19 cases, answer questions in virtual town hall

Posted at 6:56 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 18:56:04-04

LEE CO., Fla. — Members of Lee Health met this afternoon for a virtual town hall meeting to discuss the status of Covid-19 across our communities.

It also served as a live Q & A, with viewers able to submit questions they had surrounding the virus and its vaccine. It comes as Covid-19 cases are on the rise here in Southwest Florida, causing some schools to experience shortages in teachers.

Dr. Larry Antonucci started the town hall off by saying their hospitals are 98% full and ICU’s being 96% full. Antonucci went on to say that they are seeing an increase in the amount of children patients at their hospitals. On Monday- at the Golisano Children’s Hospital- the emergency department saw 265 patients. Of those, 135 patients had Covid-19 symptoms. That has more than doubled than what they would normally see.

As of today, there are 641 patients in the hospital with Covid-19- which is an all-time high. Last year, that number was 372. Doctors Antonucci and Stephanie Stovall also took the time to answer viewer questions. They took the time saying those who have already contracted Covid-19 should still look to get vaccinated, saying natural immunity is not as strong as vaccine immunity.

One reoccurring question that seemed to be on a lot of viewer’s minds had to do with getting the vaccine while pregnant. There have not been any studies showing pregnant women with the vaccine has led to infertility. Both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend vaccination for pregnant women.

“The reason for that is the risk factors for pregnant women who get Covid are significant, both for them and their baby," said Dr. Antonucci. "That’s the reason why it’s been approved for pregnant women.”

The doctors did also mention that they have had to eliminate a few elective surgeries, but not all. They are still performing certain surgeries at this time.

There are a variety of treatments and it depends on how sick the patient is. The one medication they use the most often is an anti-viral medication that has a direct effect on the replicating ability of the virus. Some patients, depending on their condition, may also qualify for steroids. Those are given to decrease the inflammation in the lungs.

There have been rare instances where young men develop a condition called myocarditis. According to Doctor Stovall contracting this condition is very rare. This condition, as she explained, weakens the heart and causes a difficulty in breathing. Stovall said there is a likelihood of catching myocarditis if you are not vaccinated. But being vaccinated helps minimize that risk. She said they have only seen a few patients with the condition, as it is very rare. Those patients, however, have since recovered.