‘The curve is no longer flat:’ What are SWFL leaders planning to do to help stop the surge of coronavirus cases?

Nearly 900 of you commented on our story Thursday asking why Fort Myers and Lee County have not discussed more serious measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s a topic many of you want to debate, so why aren’t our leaders?

WINK News Reporter Morgan Rynor reached out to all 14 people who run Lee County and the City of Fort Myers Friday, looking for answers.

Council members Teresa Watkins Brown and Johnny Streets jumped on the story from the start. They want a mask mandate.

“I know they’re uncomfortable, but I’d much rather wear a mask then a ventilator,” said.

“I think it’s the right of the county commissioners as well as the city elected officials to actually look out for the citizens of this city,” said.

On Friday, we heard from Councilman Kevin Anderson.

“This is a very serious health issue,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it, but we still can’t sacrifice our freedoms and our liberties over this issue.”

MORGAN: “I think it’s at least worth a conversation among your peers on the council.”

ANDERSON: “And I’m not disagreeing with that. In fact, I will make sure it’s on the council agenda.”

Mayor Randy Henderson texted saying the city is “working in coordination with the governor’s office” and he “strongly urges compliance with the CDC guidelines.”

But when we asked him why not hold a special meeting to publicly discuss it, he didn’t answer.

Moving over to Lee County, Commissioner Frank Mann is the only one who answered the phone Thursday. He said it’s time for the commission to call a meeting to talk about COVID-19 response.

Cecil Pendergrass followed up Friday by text. He says it’s the county manager who can take action. We asked him if he wanted the manager to do that, but he did not answer the question.

Lee Health CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci says the hospital system is running out of time. At the rate they’re going, he says, they’ll run out of hospital beds by the end of the month.

We asked if he is pressing our lawmakers.

MORGAN: “Education is not working. What is it going to take for you to say, ‘Governor DeSantis, Commissioner Hamman, we need more? We need, possibly, a mask mandate?'”

ANTONUCCI: “It’s going to take more than any law and mandate. It’s going to take people in this community to step up and take actions themselves.”

Although they may disagree, all three of the Fort Myers City Council members who spoke to Morgan say they’ve brought the topic up with the county manager multiple times.

We reached out to Saeed Kazemi several times in the past two days and have not heard back either. He is the one who has the power to call a meeting.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
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