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Hundreds of new COVID-19 cases reported in Immokalee

One month ago, Immokalee had very few cases of COVID-19. Now, the Florida Department of Health’s dashboard is showing a large cluster of cases with more than 400 recorded since April.

“This is going to be a very, very hot spot here if we don’t do something about it,” said Dr. Antonio Gonzalez.

“The numbers in Immokalee are really growing and 20 out of 20 are coming out positive.”

The good news is that people are getting tested. The bad news is that Gonzalez’s patients can’t afford to stop working and their jobs don’t allow for social distancing.

“Most of these people, they are at work when we call them and I’ll say if you are infected and you are infected, that means that everybody that was next to you has to be tested and will probably be positive,” Gonzalez said.

“The problem is we can’t stay at home and do the work that we would usually do out in the field from home,” said Patricia Miranda.

She and her husband both work in the fields, but with money being tight, they said they have little choice but to keep working, even when they’re not feeling well.

During Tuesday’s Collier County Commission meeting, Commissioner Bill McDaniel called on the state of help Immokalee.

“I don’t know if a letter to the governor’s office and or the emergency management services in Tallahassee would assist this or not, but I would love to see more testing as soon as possible.”

Gonzalez said more testing is a must.

“There’s plenty of deaths already, we don’t want the number to rise more.”

Collier commissioners shared numbers from NCH Healthcare System in March that showed one patient with COVID-19 from Immokalee. That number jumped to seven in April. A dashboard search of Immokalee zip codes on Tuesday shows that in zip code 34142, there are 409 recorded positive cases. (Note: That zip code is shared with Ave Maria.)

Collier County as a whole has 1,231 resident cases.

Reporter:Andrea Guerrero
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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