COVID-19 Asked and Answered
Updated August 19, 2021
Q: What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?
A: There are a lot of options for your care. You can contact your primary care physician or visit a walk-in clinic to be evaluated and learn if COVID-19 testing is right for you. Your doctor will help determine the best treatment for your situation. Currently, Lee Health’s convenient telehealth service, Lee Telehealth is free for all patients. Patients can access a doctor or advanced provider 24/7 at www.leetelehealth.org.
If you have severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing, immediately seek emergency care or call 911. If you don’t have severe symptoms the aforementioned options are more appropriate than the emergency room.
Q: How can I get tested for COVID-19?
A: There are dozens of COVID-19 testing locations throughout Southwest Florida. Click Here to find the testing location that is most convenient for you.
Q: Should I get vaccinated against COVID-19?
A: Yes! Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect against the coronavirus. Vaccination protects you from severe infection and lessens the opportunity for you to spread the virus to others.
Many retailers such as Publix, Walgreens and CVS offer the vaccine. You can also get the vaccine through Lee Health’s vaccination clinic at Gulf Coast Medical Center. To schedule an appointment click here.
Q: Are masks required at Lee Health?
A: Yes, per CDC guidelines, masks are required to be worn by anyone entering a Lee Health facility, regardless of vaccination status. They must worn at all times when in the facility unless eating or drinking. Visitors are required to leave their masks on even when in a patient room. As an operating health system, the safety of our patients, staff and visitors is our top priority. By requiring masks, we are limiting the risk of spreading COVID-19 in health facilities and ensuring that we can continue to effectively provide care for all who need it. To preserve personal protective equipment for staff, we ask that the public bring their own masks.
Q: Why is Lee Health advocating for wearing a mask in public even if someone is vaccinated?
A: Lee Health follows CDC recommendations for masking, and when an area is considered a hotspot, that usually means recommending masking in public indoor places, regardless of vaccination status. It is possible to carry the virus if you are vaccinated, so wearing a mask provides an extra layer of protection. Click here for current CDC recommendations.
Q: Should my children be masked at school?
A: The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that students K-12 be masked during school this year. The CDC also recommends that all people be masked in areas of substantial and high transmission of COVID regardless of vaccination status.
Q: Are visitors allowed at Lee Health?
A: To view our current visitation policy, please click here.
Q: I am young and healthy; do I need to worry?
A: The coronavirus has been shown to affect people of all ages, and it is impossible to know how sick any individual will get. With the Delta variant, we are seeing many younger patients than we did a year ago.
Q: Are Lee Health employees required to be vaccinated?
A: At this time Lee Health employees are not required to be vaccinated. Lee Health strongly urges its staff and every eligible individual to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves, our patients and the community. The vaccine has been proven to build the necessary antibodies that reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus and its variants.
Q: What is the Delta variant? How is it different?
A: All viruses mutate as they spread through a population, and the coronavirus is no different. The Delta variant appears to spread more quickly than previous iterations of this virus. This is another reason it is important to get vaccinated, as the less chance there is for a virus to spread the less opportunity there is to mutate.
Q: Is Lee Health tracking the Delta variant?
A: Lee Health does not do the genetic testing that is required to determine if a patient is infected with a variant of the coronavirus. However, according to the CDC, over 80% of current infections in the United States are caused by the Delta variant, and we suspect the majority of patients we are treating in our hospitals are infected with this variant. Statewide, the Florida Department of Health is charged with tracking variants of the coronavirus. Variants do not affect how we treat COVID-19 patients.
Q: How are vaccinated people still testing positive for COVID-19?
A: The COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective, and are working as they are supposed to. Like the flu vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine does not guarantee that you won’t get sick; however, if you are exposed to the coronavirus, you’re likely to have mild to no symptoms. You are also far less likely to end up in the hospital, and if you are hospitalized, you are likely to recover quicker and avoid the ICU. So, while the COVID-19 vaccine does not guarantee you will never test positive, it does mean your chances of severe illness are very low if you are exposed to the coronavirus.
Q: I am fully vaccinated; can I get a booster shot?
A: The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for severely immunocompromised and previously vaccinated individuals to receive a COVID-19 booster shot. This booster is not appropriate for everyone, just those whose immune systems were at risk of not fully responding to their first vaccination due to underlying health conditions. More information about who is eligible for a booster can be found on the CDC website.
Q: How many of Lee Health’s hospitalized COVID-19 patients have been vaccinated?
A: Follow Lee Health’s social media pages for daily updates on the status of the coronavirus in our hospitals.
Q: What is the average time COVID-19 patients spend in the hospital?
A: COVID-19 patients are currently averaging about 6.5 days in the hospital.
Q: Are all patients tested for COVID-19? How often are patients admitted for COVID and then test positive?
A: Lee Health tests people who are symptomatic, those who need testing for placement or procedures or those who request a test due to a known exposure. We do not test hospitalized patients who have no suspicion of having COVID-19. While it is possible for a patient to be admitted for something else and then test positive, the overwhelming majority of our COVID patients are admitted for COVID as their primary diagnosis.
Q: Does Lee Health ask patients if they are vaccinated?
A: Yes, Lee Health’s policy is to ask every patient whose vaccination status is unknown if they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Q: Is Lee Health still performing elective surgeries?
A: Lee Health is temporarily suspending some elective procedures due to a high census across all Lee Health hospitals. Procedures that require an overnight stay that can be postponed without causing patient harm are being rescheduled or not scheduled. Patients who need an elective outpatient surgery and who will go home the same day are not impacted by this change.
We understand this decision may be disappointing news for our patients, but it is necessary to safely manage our hospitals at a time when COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout our community, placing an extraordinary demand on our ability to manage our hospitals’ bed capacity. We will reevaluate this change when the number of COVID patients begins to decline.