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Lee among Fla. counties with highest death tolls from COVID-19

Lee County has the third-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Florida counties reporting at least 100 cases.

Lee has had six reported deaths due to complications of the coronavirus, behind Broward and Palm Beach counties, and 31 people were hospitalized in Lee County as of Monday afternoon.

In the last week, the number of positive cases tripled in Lee County – and so did the number of deaths.

Lee Health President and CEO Larry Antonucci said his hospitals and staff are prepared for the number of cases to rise, and that the worst is still to come.

Delyn Latnie had a plea for residents – and Lee commissioners on Monday.

“People should take this thing serious. They should really take it serious,” he said.

Latnie would know. He lost his friend Conrad Buchanon, a Fort Myers DJ known as DJ Griff Gotti, to the coronavirus on Thursday.

“Griff was a staple in the community. Everybody from all different walks of life knew Griff,” Latnie said.

“We’re just so deeply saddened when we lose a patient. Every one of them we take very very personally. Our deepest condolences go to all those families,” Antonucci said.

The mortality rate of COVID-19 patients in Lee County is close to 4 percent. That’s very high compared to the rest of Florida – and most of the country.

Is that a signal that Lee County might be the next COVID-19 hot spot?

“It’s really hard to predict. As we look at the numbers we know we’re on a trend that’s upward but we don’t know when that trend is going to fall down,” Antonucci said.

Florida’s surgeon general predicts we’re at least six weeks away from the peak of COVID-19 cases.

The message to everyone bears repeating if you want to reduce your risk: “Stay home and minimize contact with others,” Antonucci said.

“Just don’t let no moment pass without telling someone you love them,” Latnie said.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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