Here we go again!

·2 min read

Never would I ever have thought that two years later, we’d still be talking COVID-19.

But we are and it is gripping our community once again. Weekly case numbers are skyrocketing, more than a thousand teacher absences, along with hundreds of kids missing school since returning from winter break, elective surgeries again on hold at NCH Healthcare System and Lee Health hospitals.

Hospital officials have referred to its “wildfire-like transmission.”

Reporters Liz Freeman, Frank Gluck and Dan Deluca have been providing daily information since the pandemic began in 2020 and that will continue. Here’s just some of what they have found this week alone:

- A 580 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in Lee Health intensive care units since the start of the new year, and a 367 percent increase in the number of patients on ventilators.

-For the first time in four months, Lee Health was caring for more than 300 COVID-19.

--NCH, with two campuses and a combined 713 beds, had 552 admitted patients Thursday. Of the total, 135 had tested positive for the virus. Eleven are in critical care, and three are on ventilators.

- Both hospital systems have seen a rise in employee cases as well, while already dealing with a nursing staffing shortage.

As someone who has lost one loved one to complications from COVID-19 and has another family member hospitalized with it as we speak, please take the necessary precautions to keep everyone in our community safe.

The omicron surge is forecast to peak in the next two to three weeks, according to Lee Health. That’s good news, I think

But this virus and its longevity are having far more impacts than just on people’s physical health.

As reporter Laura Layden tell us, there are real fears out there for local busines owners. While Southwest Florida faced serious worker shortages before COVID hit, the pandemic has only worsened the region's labor crunch, as it has the nation's, for myriad reasons.

And the latest surge is again leading to event cancellations

Events commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are the latest to feel the impact, as reporter Charles Runnells tells us.

It wasn’t an easy decision for organizers to cancel Naples’ popular Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade for a second year in a row. Instead, they’ve replaced it with a virtual event featuring guest speakers and performances.

Meanwhile, the Fort Myers’ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day March and Celebration will go on as planned.

Organizers said the smaller number gives people more room to socially distance at both the march and the Centennial Park celebration. And masks will be encouraged and available.

So be safe out there. And as always, please let us know how we’re doing covering our community. I can be reached at wfullert@gannett.com.

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Best wishes,

Wendy Fullerton Powell

Senior director of news for The News-Press/Naples Daily News

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Here we go again!

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