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Lee Co. sees first 'presumptive' coronavirus cases

Posted at 11:22 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 23:23:37-04

LEE COUNTY, FLA — UPDATE (1 PM): Lee Health held a press conference to discuss updates with the Coronavirus in Southwest Florida.

The Department of Health announced yesterday one positive case in Lee County.

The person is now deceased.


Leaders with Lee Health say they have treated two patients who tested "presumptively positive" for coronavirus. One of those patients, a person in their 70s, has since died, the other is still under their care.

According to the organization, the patient who died was tested for COVID-19 "in accordance with guidelines provided by the Florida Department of Health." They say the person came to Gulf Coast Medical Center with severe respiratory ailment, following international travel. That agency notified Lee Health of the "presumptive positive" test results Friday evening.

“We are saddened by the family’s loss and will continue to monitor and take appropriate precautions on behalf of patients, caregivers, and the community,” says Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health.

Lee Health's second potential coronavirus patient is in isolation and is receiving treatment.

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Fox 4 is told that Lee Health employees and others who have come into contact with both of these patients are being evaluated. As of now the organization says that no Lee Health employees have shown signs of infection, but they have been isolated as a precaution and are being monitored closely.

Lee Health says it will not release the names or any other details about either patient due to federal privacy laws.

The Florida Department of Health is investigating the travel histories of both patients to determine opportunities for exposure, and says it plans to share that information when and if appropriate.

Gulf Coast Medical Center and other Lee Health facilities are still open and accepting new patients at this time. The organization says they are preventing the spread within its hospitals and clinics by cleansing all surfaces in both clinical and public spaces with disinfectant.

This announcement comes as the Florida Department of Health announced another coronavirus death in the state and two new presumptive cases. According to FDOH, a patient in Santa Rosa county has died, following international travel. The agency has also identified two new possible patients in Broward county. One is a 65-year-old man and the other is a 75-year-old man. Both patients are currently in isolation.

Any patient who suspects they may have symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to call the emergency room in advance of arrival so that appropriate precautions could be taken.