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More COVID-19 deaths reported in SWFL, but cases trending lower

Southwest Florida reported the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day on Wednesday, but overall, cases of the coronavirus are trending lower.

Testing is ramping up across the state, with close to 24,000 people being tested on Monday. Only about 2.5 percent of those tested positive for COVID-19, much less than the overall average of close to 9 percent.

“When it first began, you could only get a test if you were appearing with symptoms,” said Robert Hawkes, director of Florida Gulf Coast University’s physician assistant program.

“So now, people can be tested without any symptoms. So therefore, I think the percentages we see are going to be dropping.”

Despite the latest trend, Southwest Florida also recorded its most deaths in a single day Wednesday with 10 reported by the state. With businesses reopening, Hawkes said it’s a reminder of what we’re still facing.

“The concern is people become too complacent and say, ‘oh, businesses are starting to open up, we can now go into restaurants, we can do outdoor dining.’ And then all of the sudden the masks come off, the large group gatherings start, and we could certainly develop a second wave of COVID.”

One of the people fearing a second wave if Jennifer Grytza, who nearly lost her mother to the virus.

“She had no underlying conditions. She was healthy as a horse. She was in dance class four or five days a week. So it scares me how hard it hit her.”

Her mother was on a ventilator for more than 30 days, and just this week, tested negative for the first time.

Grytza fears there is still a lot we don’t know about the virus.

“How many times have we heard 14 days, right? You hear 14 days all the time. If you have symptoms, you’re supposed to quarantine for 14 days,” Grytza said.

“That seems to be a magic number that everybody seems to be saying. But my mom was contagious for two months.”

Hawkes said it’s important for the state to test as many people as possible, even people who aren’t necessarily showing any symptoms. He said that will give the state a clearer picture of where we stand and it could also alert them if there’s a second wave.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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