Lee County Commission Chair optimistic that parks could reopen within the month

Posted at 6:50 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 18:50:39-04

LEE COUNTY — Lee County leaders are, for the first time, showing cautious signs of optimism in the fight against COVID-19.

The CEO of Lee Health said, looking at the current case numbers, we will not have to stay home for months, and the Chair of the Lee County Board of Commissioners is talking about a timeline to reopen parks. Board Chair Brian Hamman said what he’s hearing from his county’s hospital system is encouraging.

“We’re seeing it drop back down to about 20 new cases a day, and that’s really been flattening out," said Hamman.

Hamman said those numbers mean social distancing is working, and hospitals aren’t getting overwhelmed with patients.

“We certainly appear to have enough capacity to handle a growth in patients. I think if our numbers continue to trend at the flat or downward level that they’re trending at, I think we could take some baby steps to allow people to get back together some," said Hamman.

Hamman said the first step would be reopening parks and walking trails in the county, while still encouraging people to keep their distance. Lee Health CEO, Dr. Larry Antonucci, seemed to agree that now is the time to begin making plans to slowly get back to normal.

“I believe we are now at an inflection point where we must look forward and prepare for recovery... Even as we consider reopening of service, we encourage you and the community to continue to practice social distancing, safe habits, and frequent hand-washing," said Antonucci on a conference call Wednesday.

We asked Hamman if he had a timeline for when he hoped to see parks reopen to the public.

“I would feel comfortable starting to make those decisions at the very beginning of May if the numbers continue to trend the way they are," said Hamman.

But Hamman said, even if the parks do reopen in early May, there would still be a ban on large gatherings. He calls it baby steps toward getting back to normal.