Lee Health has plan in place as COVID-19 patients rise at facilities

As the state continues to reported a record number of positive coronavirus cases on a daily basis, the number of people heading to the hospital with COVID-19 is also on the rise. And that’s a concern for the head of the biggest health system in Southwest Florida.

We spoke to Dr. Larry Antonucci, the president and CEO of Lee Health, Wednesday about how they are managing the new COVID-19 patients at their facilities. Antonucci says they’re following the numbers closely and have a plan to handle the surge.

“I’m seeing some complacency out in the community, and I’m worried about it, frankly,” Antonucci told WINK News.

Antonucci says that complacency is leading to a big rise in cases.

“We are seeing more community spread than we’ve seen in the past,” Antonucci said.

And, in his hospital system, Antonucci says more people are showing up with the virus.

“Our [COVID-19] positive patients, the number has increased pretty significantly over the past few weeks,” Antonucci said.

Antonucci said he is concerned about the daily reported percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus.

“The average over the entire pandemic has been around 10%. But, in the last week, we’ve seen it increase to over 20%,” Antonucci said. “One out of five patients that we’re testing in our lab is testing positive for [COVID-19].”

For now, Antonucci says there’s enough bed space for everyone who needs it and have planned accordingly in case that changes.

“We have an entire plan in place if we do start having capacity issues to begin scaling back on certain elective surgeries if we have to,” Antonucci said.

Antonucci says that won’t happen until the hospital starts pushing over 1,200 patients.

But that could happen sooner than later.

“Our staffed bed capacity is about 1,300 and right now,” he said. “We’re hovering between 1,100 and 1,200.”

Antonucci says we all have a role to play to prevent and stop spread of COVID-19. He said the problem isn’t Lee County’s alone. He’s regularly in contact with health leaders statewide and says everyone is seeing the same thing.

“The combination of social distancing, mask wearing and good hand hygiene is what’s going to keep those numbers down and not overwhelm the health system,” Antonucci said.

MORE: Lee Health – Stay up to date with the latest updates on COVID-19


The Florida Department of Health has opened a 24-hour COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Questions may also be emailed to [email protected]. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida Department of Health COVID-19 updates

*The map is best viewed on a desktop computer. If you don’t see the map above tap HERE for a fullscreen version.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know.