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More young people are testing positive for COVID-19 in Southwest Florida

Liz Freeman
Naples Daily News
Published 5:01 PM EDT Mar 31, 2020

More young people are being diagnosed with coronavirus in Southwest Florida, a gradual shift away from the assumption that only older people are at risk, according to state data.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Health reported that a 16-year-boy from Collier County had tested positive, the county’s youngest case. That comes less than a week after a 10-year-old boy in Lee County tested positive.

So far, nine people 21 and younger have become infected with coronavirus in Collier since state officials began reporting data in early March. There have been five cases among young people in Lee County.

Besides the 10-year-old boy who traveled to Colorado and in Florida, a 19-year-old woman tested positive who traveled to France and the United Kingdom, the state data shows.

‘Homebody’: Lee County man who died of COVID-19 was a ‘homebody’ who hadn’t traveled

Two women, both 21, have tested positive, according to the state data. One of the women had traveled to Spain; the travel history is unknown for the other.

The most recent case in Lee involves a 20-year-old woman with no travel history of exposure, the data shows.

The incidence of coronavirus continues with a steady uptick in numbers in Southwest Florida, as expected with more testing availability at hospitals, mobile drive-up locations for specimen collection and testing that is arranged by the state Department of Health.

By mid-day Tuesday, there were 185 cases in Lee involving all age groups and six deaths, including the state’s youngest victim, a 39-year-old DJ from Fort Myers. Collier stands at 142 cases and one death to date, according to the health department.

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So far, the age group with the most positive test results has been among people aged 45 to 54 who account for 18% of the statewide volume or 1,102 cases, according to the state data.

The 55 to 64 age group is linked to 17% of the statewide total for 1,040 cases, according to the data.

There have been 937 cases among people aged 25 to 34 and 940 cases among 35- to 44-year-olds. Both of the those age groups are tied to 15% of the statewide volume, according to the state data.

For seniors aged 65 to 74, there have been 836 cases, or 14% of the volume, while the 75 to 84 group accounts for 524 cases, or 9%.

More: Collier physicians pressure DeSantis to take ‘decisive action,’ order shelter in place

Three percent of the state total, or 168 cases, involve people 85 and older, the data shows. That includes a 94-year-of Lee County man who died of the virus.

Among the younger groups, a total of 483 cases have been detected in 15- to 24-year-olds for 8% of the state total.

Lastly, 41 kids aged 5 to 14 have been positive for coronavirus, for 1% of the total of cases around the state.

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Meanwhile, in a daily media briefing Tuesday, Lee Health officials said the 216-bed addition planned at Gulf Coast Medical Center will come into service Thursday, two months ahead of schedule.

The hospital will now have 250 dedicated beds to treat COVID-19 patients and persons under investigation (PUIs) in units to keep them separated from non-COVID patients, according to Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO.

More: Lee County hospital gets OK to open 216 new beds as coronavirus spreads

That gives the hospital 18 additional negative pressure isolation rooms and up to 36 overflow ICU beds to treat COVID-19 patients, he said.

Lee Health also reported it has 29 patients hospitalized in isolation who have coronavirus and 14 patients have been discharged.

Another 254 patients are in isolation at Lee Health hospitals as “persons under investigation” for coronavirus until their test results come back.

Lee Health has 140 employees at home in quarantine and seven employees have tested positive after exposure on the job, he said.

In Collier, the NCH Healthcare System is treating 19 patients for coronavirus and has discharged 12 patient home to continue their isolation, according to Paul Hiltz, president and CEO of NCH.

A total of 30 employees combined at Baker Hospital Downtown and North Naples are on quarantine and seven more employees are on self quarantine due to their recent travel.

No NCH physicians or nurses have tested positive for coronavirus, Hiltz said.

Physicians Regional in Collier has declined to share daily updates about coronavirus patient volume and supplies, Physicians Regional spokeswoman Brittney Thoman said in an email.

This content was originally published here.