Citizens comment on county’s COVID-19 response

Lee County residents have been contacting County Commissioners prior to today’s emergency meeting. Here’s what your neighbors are saying:

Dear Commissioners,

At your emergency meeting on COVID-19 this morning I implore you to take aggressive and mandatory measures NOW to protect the health and safety of Lee County residents. Rather than keeping our health care system from being overwhelmed, putting at risk the health and safety of the frontline soldiers in this war (doctors, nurses, and all hospital workers); rather than acting on the advice of the medical experts and following the data and the certain trend lines of the coming spike in cases, the Board of County Commissioners has decided to gamble with our lives and those of our loved ones through its approach of simply hoping voluntary social distancing will do the trick.  LEADERS are supposed to lead, not punt or simply follow guidelines coming from the federal and state governments.

While I believe that it is past time for Governor DeSantis to issue a stay at home order covering the entire state of Florida if we are to dent the tsunami coming our way, he is NOT telling local jurisdictions to do no more.  NO, he made clear from the beginning that he believes that there are different situations in different parts of the state and that he is deferring to the local leaders (home rule, remember) to take more stringent actions based on the number of cases and their rate of increase, along with the hospital readiness and capacity, to meet the projected cases.  Throughout the state, as numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have occurred and are rising exponentially, local elected officials at both county and municipal levels have issued stay at home and closing of non-essential business orders.

Lee County has been a hotspot from the beginning (one of 8 counties with 100 or more confirmed cases), with the number of cases rising exponentially every day.  Just since your emergency meeting on Wednesday, March 25th, where NO action was taken, and you decided to wait and see what the numbers looked like today, the number of cases in Lee County has increased by 100 new cases, for a total of 145 cases of residents who tested positive for COVID-19—that’s an increase of 136% in just four days!

Lee County now has the 6th highest number of COVID cases in the state (1st Dade, 2nd Broward, 3rd Palm Beach, 4th Orange, 5th Hillsborough, 6th Lee) AND we are the ONLY one of these counties that hasn’t issued some form of Stay at Home order and/or closure of non-essential businesses order. Why, because of the failure of leadership by our County Commissioners.

Most alarming of all, Lee County now has the highest mortality rate among hotspot Florida counties (those with 100-plus COVID-19 cases), with 6 deaths (up from 2 at the time of the March 25th meeting).  Our mortality rate is 4.8%, while Broward County with the most cases has a 1.3% mortality rate.

In light of what’s happened during this 4-day “wait and see” period, it’s a no-brainer for this Board to take decisive action this morning.  On Thursday (March 26th, the County Manager distributed a copy of a draft emergency resolution to local governments [but not made available by the County to its citizens via its website] ordering individuals in Lee County not to leave their homes and ordering all non-essential businesses [but defining the majority of types of businesses as essential] to temporarily close. Unbeknownst to the local citizens, media, and most local elected officials, sometime this weekend the County posted the briefing package for today’s meeting and the March 26th draft was replaced with meaningless resolution taking NO action…it simply codifies the Governor’s Executive Order and the FL Surgeon General’s public health advisory!  This is just a fig leaf to try to pretend like you’re doing something.  These Statewide orders and advisories were already in effect and required no local action.

Lee County residents expect, deserve, and demand that our elected leaders put the health and safety of its citizens FIRST. In this crisis we need leaders to LEAD! The voters will remember in November what you did today.  In a few days, the window for bending the curve will close, and the consequences of this action/inaction will be clear to all.  The voters of Lee County will remember in November your failure to do all you could to protect the citizens of this county. 

A nurse in Lee County’s Gulf Coast Medical Center shared his powerful message in News-Press this morning. Consider his challenging questions when you vote:

“How much do you like to gamble?

Would you gamble your life? Your wife’s? Your husbands, boyfriends, significant others?

How about your child or Children?”

I hope you’ll ask yourselves these questions before you vote.  The lives of Lee County citizens are literally and imminently at stake. Thank you.

Darla Letourneau

Lee Commission too reluctant, too?

I was disappointed as I watched the Lee County Commission at its emergency meeting Tuesday, to hear a report from Lee Health on the status of the coronavirus and how it might be aff ecting hospitals in Lee County.

I was truly amazed that not one question was asked by our commissioners of Dr. Larry Antonucci (president and CEO of Lee Health) as to what additional steps he would suggest be taken to help reduce the negative impact of coronavirus on Lee County residents.

This is not the time for delay and indecision. This is the time for our county commissioners to take the bold steps, even if they are hard, to make sure every possible action is undertaken to protect the health and safety of every Lee County resident.

It is unfortunate that they are allowing another five days go by before even considering whether further steps should be taken to protect the lives of county residents. I hope the price we pay for their inaction is not too great.

I urge our County Commission to decide Monday to pass a “sheltering in place” order and any other measures suggested by our medical experts to ensure the protection of Lee residents.

(From a member of the Estero Village Council and a candidate for the Lee County Commission.) Nicholas “Nick” Batos, Estero

Dear Lee Commissioners,

These are times none have ever experienced and with your wisdom, hopefully we will never experience again. However YOU are responsible for the citizens of Lee County and you took an oath in that regard.  You must take the most extreme protective measures possible to protect our county from the ravages of Covid 19.

Everything must be shut down and shelter in place orders must be issued.  The bridge to Sanibel must be closed to all but residents and people who must work there.  Likewise, the bridge to Cape Coral must be closed in the same fashion.  The Lee County Health System is in place, thankfully, for residents of Lee County and it must not be overwhelmed by visitors to our county.   No one has any business coming here  because “they had a vacation planned” or for any other reason.  There are enough irresponsible Florida residents we don’t need any more flooding our space.

The Pastor in Tampa yesterday who flouted all reason by packing parishioners cheek to jowl into his sanctuary reveals the insanity that is rampant without strict government regulations.

If ever there was a time to act, it is NOW.  You must protect us; you our hope that the death rate will not keep rising in Lee County and that we are safe here.

China seems to have stemmed the death toll by mandatory practices….we need to implement orders that are mandatory and will result in fines if disobeyed. Judith Adler

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