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Facts, not Fear IV
July 8, 2020

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Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees had a uniquely 2020 Fourth of July holiday weekend message for Floridians: Avoid the "Three Cs" -- Closed Spaces, Crowded Places and Close-Contact Settings.

And wear a mask in public.

In a joint statement released Thursday morning that also included cautionary comment from Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, the state's top officials urged us all to take precautions to mitigate the heightened spread of the new coronavirus.

"People over the age of 65 and those with underlying conditions are at risk of severe complications from COVID-19 and should avoid crowds and minimize contact outside of the home," Gov. DeSantis said. "As we head into this holiday weekend, I encourage all Floridians be diligent in avoiding closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings, and remember to wear a mask. Together, we must continue to take the appropriate steps to slow the spread of this virus."

Dr. Rivkees reiterated the "help flatten the curve" measures health professionals have stressed since the pandemic began impacting the U.S. earlier this year.

"Many asymptomatic individuals are unknowingly carrying the COVID-19 virus in public," Dr. Scott Rivkees said. "Wearing a mask in public settings, frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and observing the latest social distancing guidelines will also amplify our ongoing efforts in protecting our most vulnerable populations from contracting this virus. Every Floridian has an important role to play in shielding and safeguarding our communities against COVID-19."

Indeed.

We have heard the comments concerning the spike in numbers. Theories, and what pass for theories, abound.

However our state's top officials continue to urge those at risk to stay home and the rest of us to take care in our in-public interactions.

With the number of COVID-19 cases again spiking in Florida, Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci summed up the current situation succinctly:

"We are at a critical point in our battle against the coronavirus. Numbers don't lie," Dr. Antonucci said as July opened with a spike in numbers. "Coronavirus is spreading throughout Southwest Florida, and we are seeing more hospitalizations and a higher positivity rate than ever before. Today we have more than 200 people in our hospitals and nursing homes with COVID-19. Just before Memorial Day, we had 80. This is a significant increase, and as a community, we have the power to reverse this trend. Together, we have the power to save lives."

On Thursday, the number of hospitalizations was 258 with 47 new admission since Wednesday. Bed capacity was at 82 percent, with coronavirus patients occupying 20.1 percent of those beds -- one of every five.

The numbers don't lie.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued some advice back in February regarding the then-new coronavirus disease formally dubbed COVID-19: Share the Facts, Stop Fear.

It's good advice so here goes.

One more time:

For the vast majority, the illness is mild. You're not going to get very sick. You're not going to be hospitalized. You're not going to die.

Many of us may not even know we are infected. That's the double-edged sword wielded by this stealth virus that can and does kill at a rate much higher than other types of serious respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia or flu.

How much higher?

The ratio of confirmed cases of the flu to attributed deaths is .01, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The ratio of reported cases to attributed deaths for COVID-19 varies by country, even by state. In the U.S, overall. it's 4.8 percent.

The numbers don't lie.

So yes, are we are all urged, this holiday weekend, add some common-sense safety precautions to the usual Fourth of July "take-cares" concerning fireworks and the consumption of mom's mayonnaise-based potato salad.

Avoid the "Three Cs" -- Closed Spaces, Crowded Places and Close-Contact Settings.

Wear a mask in public.

And take to heart also the words of Dr. Antonucci, whose days -- and we fear, nights -- are consumed with the health of those of us who call Southwest Florida home:

"The threat of this virus is as real as it has ever been, and complacency is not an option."

Stay safe. And have a happy Fourth.

-Neighbor editorial

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