COVID-19 case records set again in Lee and Collier as omicron surge continues

Dan DeLuca
Naples Daily News

Lee and Collier counties again set pandemic records for the number of COVID-19 cases in a week, according to a report released Friday by the Florida Department of Health.

The report, which contains state and county-level data from Jan. 7 through Thursday, shows a total of 18,238 cases for the two counties.

According to the report, Lee had 12,846 cases, a 21% jump from last week's previous record of 10,613. 

Collier set a record for the third consecutive week with 5,392 cases, up 10% from the 4,871 cases it reported last week.

Last week:Omicron variant surge leads to COVID-19 case records in Lee, Collier counties

By the way, subscribers:COVID-19’s toll on Collier County in 2021: More than 38,000 cases and 552 deaths reported

And:COVID-19’s toll on Lee County in 2021: More than 91,000 cases and nearly 1,200 deaths reported

Florida also set a record for cases for the third week in a row with 430,297 reported, an 8% increase from last week’s 397,114 cases.

While coronavirus-related hospitalizations in both counties have not reached their summer levels, they continue to rise. Experts have said hospitalizations lag behind reported cases by about two weeks.

On Friday, Lee Health reported its hospitals were treating 342 COVID-19 patients, up 55% from last Friday’s count of 220 patients.

In a release, Lee Health spokesperson Jonathan Little said that while it's understandable for people to desire a return to normalcy nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, "the coronavirus is still making people very sick in our community."

NCH Healthcare hospitals were treating 150 COVID-19 patients Friday, a 28% jump over the 117 reported a week ago.

On Monday, NCH will begin postponing elective surgeries because of its growing number of COVID-19 patients. Last week, Lee Health began a similar policy.

Earlier this week, Lee Health administrators said they expect their hospitals to reach full capacity in two or three weeks when the omicron case wave could peak. That's not only because of rapidly rising COVID-19 patient admissions but also because hundreds of its staff are either ill with the virus or quarantined because of exposure to it.

"We do not anticipate that things will get better; we anticipate that they will get worse,"  Armando Llechu, Lee Health's chief of hospital operations, said during a news conference on Tuesday. "So we ask you as a community to wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands. If you don't do it for yourself and your loved ones, do it for our health care providers who have been dealing with surge after surge for close to two years."

More:NCH Healthcare System postponing elective surgeries due to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations

And:Lee Health expects to be at capacity in a matter of weeks as the omicron variant of COVID-19 causes spike in admissions

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Florida reported 11,552 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Friday, nearly 30% more than last Friday's count of just over 8,900. That's nearly five times higher than the 2,400 COVID-19 patients reported on Dec. 27.

Like hospitalizations, COVID-19 deaths are also continuing to rise. According to the state Department of Health, Florida reported 111 virus-related deaths that occurred in the past week. That's 67 more than the previous week.

Statewide, COVID-19-related deaths grew by 470 in the past week. Since the pandemic began, the state has reported 63,158 deaths linked to the virus.

Florida does not include county-level deaths in its weekly report. The health department switched from daily to weekly published reports on June 4, but still sends data daily to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC's latest community profile report, Lee and Collier counties saw a combined 21 COVID-19 deaths for the week ending Jan. 13, 14 more than the previous week. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,885 reported COVID-19 deaths in Lee County and 894 in Collier.

Connect with Dan DeLuca: @News-PressDan (Twitter), ddeluca@gannett.com.

Journalism matters. Your support matters. Subscribe to The News-Press and the Naples Daily News.