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The Villages

Villages Health’s chief medical officer says 75 have died of COVID-19 at local hospitals

Dr. Jeffrey Lowenkron

Seventy-five people have died of COVID-19 at the local University of Florida-owned hospitals and patients are still in intensive care and on ventilators at the facilities.

That’s according to Dr. Jeffrey Lowenkron, chief medical officer of The Villages Health, who sent out a COVID-19 update to his patients via email on Tuesday. He said 14 patients are at UF Health The Villages Hospital and 34 others are at UF Health Leesburg Hospital. Of those total patients, Lowenkron said, 10 are in intensive care and six are on ventilators.

Lowenkron said the COVID-19 hospitalization rate peaked on July 21 with 81 patients at the two hospitals. Since then, he said, it’s trended down to less than 50 per day for the last five days.

Lowenkron also said the deadly virus lags hospitalization and has been increasing. At the UF hospitals, he said:

  • 14 people died between March 1 and July 7;
  • 18 people died between July 8 and July 28; and
  • 43 people died between July 29 and Aug. 17.

Lowenkron said of The Villages Health’s 60,000 patients, he’s aware of 119 cases that were at his agency’s facilities, with 26 hospitalizations and eight deaths. He added that there are probably cases among Villages Health patients that he and his staff haven’t yet heard about.

“We likely heard about all our patients who were hospitalized or died,” he said.

Lowenkron said 37 Villages Health employees have been tested for the virus, with 12 coming back positive, 16 negative and nine pending results. He said 11 of those staff members have returned to work after completing the necessary quarantine period. And he added that most healthcare workers, whether at hospitals, nursing homes or his agency’s care centers, have their Coronavirus exposures outside of work.

Over the past three weeks, Lowenkron said, the number of cases among those 45-75 years old has increases, while cases have slowed among those in the 15-35 age group.

Lowenkron said everyone can help battle the spread of COVID-19 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; and
  • Avoid interactions that last 15 minutes and are within 6 feet of others – especially those without masks.

Lowenkron also assured his patients that The Villages Health has taken many steps to create a safer environment for them, including:

  • 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 it’s safe for them to 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; and
  • Patients will be called and offered a telehealth visit to provide needed care without risk of exposure in a care center.

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