Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory – August 18, 2020
Cases of COVID-19 are occurring in Florida and locally at a decreased rate compared to a month ago. As of August 17, there are 1,515 cases in Sumter County, with 250 occurring in the last week. In Lake County, there are 5,616 cases with 475 occurring in the last week. In Marion County, there are 7,305 cases with 770 occurring in the last week. As of this morning there are 14 patients in the UF The Villages Hospital and 34 in UF Leesburg Hospital. 10 of these patients are in intensive care with 6 on ventilators. Hospitalization peaked on July 21 with a total of 81 patients at the two hospitals trending down to less than 50 per day for the last 5 days. Mortality from COVID-19 lags hospitalization and has been increasing. At the UF hospitals 14 people died between March 1 and July 7. Between July 8 and July 28 another 18 people died and from July 29 through August 17 another 43 people died.
At The Villages Health we care for almost 60,000 patients. As of August 17, we know of 119 cases with 26 hospitalizations and 8 deaths. There are likely cases among our patients we have not heard about. We likely heard about all our patients who were hospitalized or died. Our employees are also not immune. As of August 17 we have tested 37 team members with 12 being positive, 16 negative and 9 pending results. 11 of the 12 team members are back at work having completed the necessary quarantine period. Most health care workers, whether at hospitals, nursing homes or our care centers have their exposures outside of work.
The upward trend decelerated and over the last three weeks the number of known cases among 15- to 35-year-olds slowed while those of adults aged 45-75 have been increasing. Younger individuals are typically more able to tolerate and survive the infection, older individuals are at higher risk for more serious outcomes related to this infection. The Villages Charter School is opening this week and taking steps to reduce transmission between students, teachers and staff.
Communities where large populations of seniors live are advised to take proactive steps to reduce the risk of disease transmission. The Villages is the nation’s largest 55 and older active living community.
Seniors who have serious medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, or conditions reflective of weakened immunity are at even higher risk. These individuals can make decisions that reduce their risk of getting COVID-19. They should consider postponing participation in large scale social events, particularly those events held indoors with multiple close contacts. Everyone can help reduce the risk of community spread until the magnitude and severity of this infection is more widely known and understood.
For mild or moderate disease, there is no current treatment that is proven to be effective; therefore, rest, fluids, quarantine and time are often the recommended treatment. Many different treatments are being tested and have their advocates and detractors. The science is not there yet for recommendation. There is active ongoing work to develop a vaccine. Questions about development of herd immunity are still seeking answers. For those with severe disease, in intensive care and on ventilators, there are two medications that help with symptoms and probably survival: dexamethasone and remdesivir. There is ongoing study of interleukin 6 inhibitors nationally. None of these are intended for prevention and should not be taken outside a hospital setting.
Everyone can help by taking the following actions:
- People should not attend in-person events if they are sick
- Social distancing of at least 6 feet is important
- Consistent mask wearing is advised
- Frequent handwashing, avoid shaking hands and minimize hand-to-face contact
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, then wash your hands
- Avoid interactions that last 15 minutes and are within 6 feet of others, especially without masks
- Flu vaccines should be arriving this week. TVH hopes to set up a drive-up vaccination program.
The Villages Health current actions to create a safer environment:
- Temperature checks and questionnaire for all staff, patients and guests who enter a care center
- Employees who are ill or exposed are being quarantined at home until safe for return to work
- Social distancing practiced throughout the workplace
- Required mask use for all in the care center (patients and guests are provided masks if they need them)
- Telephone triage to help assess risk, need for testing and need for aggressive care like hospital visits
- COVID-19 testing, if recommended, is performed in the parking lot to avoid potential infection of others
- Patients will be called and offered a telehealth visit to provide needed care without risk of exposure in a care center
Two resources for more information:
The Florida Department of Health has established a call center for general questions at 866-779-6121, which is manned from 8 AM – 5 PM. Specific questions related to guidance may be directed to the Sumter County Health Department at 352-569-3102.
The Villages Health is working hard to keep you safe, while also ensuring we take care of your health care needs. As we all work together, we will continue our path to becoming America’s Healthiest Hometown®.
Jeffrey Lowenkron, MD
Chief Medical Officer
The Villages Health