COVID-19 hospitalizations at NCH drastically decrease after mask mandate

A month after WINK News cameras first paid a visit to the COVID-19 floor and critical care unit at NCH North Naples, there has been a drastic difference.

“When you were here the last time, NCH was around 60% occupied with COVID patients,” said Dr. David Lindner, the COVID-19 medical director for NCH. “At this point in time, we’re around 22 to 25% occupied with COVID patients.”

Dr. Lindner said the decreased hospitalizations directly correlates with the mask mandate passed by Collier County Board of County Commissioners.

“There are additional studies now that show that, in areas that have introduced a mask mandate, that you see almost 2% reduction daily in COVID,” Lindner said.

Inside the critical care unit, lights blink green, signaling that patients inside do not need to be kept in isolation for COVID-19. In July, the hallway was a beacon of red flashing lights. The same was true on the sixth floor, which the hospital has designated for COVID-19 patients. Doors were open and revealing empty beds.

“I think I would have been on the ventilator if I didn’t come here (when I did),” said Guillermo Palencia, a 62-year-old hotel maintenance worker who showed up at the emergency room with severe symptoms on Aug. 11.

Palencia is another success story for doctors and nurses at NCH. The hospital discharged him Monday night after five days on Remdesevir, a drug being used for treatment of the coronavirus.

Palencia said he’s dismayed that many people still think the virus is just like the flu.

According to Dr. Lindner, COVID-19 has a death rate about twice as high as influenza. It’s a reason he wants to dispel the idea that herd immunity is a better solution than a masked population.

“If you do the math, we’re now going to be talking about 8 to 9 million, maybe 10 million deaths,” said Lindner, who explained the elderly and minorities disproportionately account for the majority of COVID-19 deaths.

Dr. Lindner addressed several possible misconceptions being circulated online regarding the coronavirus, including the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine.

“We have good, basically randomized trials that show in a hospital setting hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are no better than the standard of care, and they come with significant danger of abnormal heart rhythms and sudden cardiac death or kidney failure,” Lindner said.

*Correction: Dr. Lindner acknowledged he initially misspoke the total U.S. population during the interview, which he later clarified as 328 million.

NCH doctor addresses COVID-19 misconceptions


Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
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