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Lee Health: COVID patient numbers rise again

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Posted at 9:45 AM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 16:18:54-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lee Health reported Thursday they are treating the most patients for COVID-related illnesses since March.

Officials say they are caring for 80 COVID-19 patients in Lee Health hospitals. Six are in the ICU and three are on a ventilator. This is an increase of 175% since May 1 and the most in a hospital setting since March 1.

Fox 4 asked the medical director of epidemiology why the sudden increase.

"All the things that we did during COVID, so vigilant, that helped protect us and decrease spread," said Dr. Mary Beth Saunders with Lee Health. "And now we’re in the summer, we’re vacationing, we are all over COVID and tired of the restrictions – we’re just tired of seeing a rise in cases."

On May 13, the hospital had 38 COVID patients. Since then, the number has grown.

According to the CDC, over the last 14 days, new cases of COVID-19 are up 71% in the state and 57% in Lee County.

Though the hospital is seeing an increase, it's not as high as other surges, such as Delta and Omicron.

Saunders says to slow the spread right now is if you're not feeling well — it may not just be allergies. Don't go to work if you're feeling sick.

"While infections have been less severe during this surge in cases, these numbers illustrate the threat the virus that causes COVID-19 poses to vulnerable populations like the elderly or those with co-morbidities," Lee Health said in a statement.

Lee Health encourages the public to make sure your COVID-19 vaccination status is up-to-date.

The 7-day moving average of diagnosed cases is still lower than the high of nearly 2,000 recorded in January 2021:


CDC testing data for the same time period: