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Health officials in Collier County give COVID update and warnings

Health officials in Collier County are worried about a recent trend in new positive COVID-19 patients. They aren’t staying at home but instead are heading to the hospital.

John Drew, with the Florida Department of Health in Collier County, said, “COVID patients in hospital, that was remaining pretty steady until about 3 or 4 days ago and then we saw a noticeable increase in the number of COVID patients being admitted to the hospital.”

Johnathan Kling, the system chief nursing officer for NCH Healthcare system echoed that sentiment. “About 10 days ago we started seeing a pretty significant increase. And this morning, we’re at 93 COVID positive patients, so we saw about a doubling of our COVID patients over a 10-day period.”

For now, NCH and Physicians Regional both say they have enough space for now. But, if this trend continues, they might not.

“If we continue to see an exponential growth in positive patients and we go from 42 to 80 and the next 2-3 weeks, it’s definitely going to be a challenge,” said Scott Lowe, the CEO of Physicians Regional Healthcare System.

Luckily, there are plans in place in case even more patients are admitted.

Kling says NCH has the ability to set up FEMA-quality tents in 24 hours that house up to 50 non-COVID-19 patients, which would bring their bed total to 1000.

Physicians Regional Healthcare System is used to activating its surge plan during the season and the same methodology would apply for the pandemic. If needed, the healthcare system can surge to 40% above our licensed hospital beds.

But Kling also says the best way to make sure this plan doesn’t have to be used, is to make sure fewer people are testing positive. That means following simple CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask.

“It feels uncomfortable, like wearing a mask does. But if you develop that scheme, play the game, do it right, you’re going to win the game most likely,” Kling said.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Drew Hill
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