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PolicyLab says SWFL could see more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases daily if action isn’t taken

As the number of positive COVID-19 cases increase, hospitals are filling up.

Lee Health is now at 97% of its staffed bed capacity as researchers say if we don’t change our ways, things are about to get a lot worse for Southwest Florida.

Doctor Gregory Tasian studies the numbers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s PolicyLab. He says, “You’re seeing an increased number of hospitalizations, your ICU is at capacity … Approaching or arriving at 100% capacity now is worrisome.”

Dr. Tasian goes on to explain, “When certain aspects of the health care systems are at capacity, particularly the ICU, then there are limitations in what can be done to care for the most severely ill in the community.”

And what he and his colleagues are seeing doesn’t bode well for Florida or Southwest Florida.

“You can expect to see an exponential rise in cases in Lee County going from the hundreds, which you seem to be experiencing now, to the thousands over the next couple weeks,” Dr. Tasian added.

MORE: COVID-Lab: Mapping COVID-19 in your community

According to their predictions, if we don’t change our actions by August 1, we could have 1,093 new cases a day in Lee County alone.

But Dr. Tasian says we still have time to turn things around.

One idea is universal masks.

“When you’re talking about mandatory masking, that’s certainly something that’s helpful.” Dr. Tasian explained. “But will it be enough to flatten the curve in an area that has experienced such a tremendous outbreak? Probably not in and of itself.”

The PolicyLab also recommends bringing back some of the more drastic measures we used before, like limiting how many people can be inside restaurants and stores, restricting the size of gatherings in public space, and asking all non-essential employees to work from home.

“If we’re going to beat this disease, we need to make sacrifices in terms of those everyday conveniences that we think we’re entitled to. But in reality, we need to protect each other,” he added.

Tasian says it won’t be easy but it is necessary.

The PolicyLab says putting those recommended measures in place will slow the spread in SWFL, but to really stop the transmission of the virus all across the country, federal, state and local leaders all need to work together.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Derrick Shaw
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