COVID and the Sanibel Community
December 15, 2020
The number of COVID cases posted on the City of Sanibel web
site is meaningless, because it includes only people who reside in
Sanibel. Our community is so much more
than just the people who live on Sanibel.
For all Lee County residents, Sanibel is their jewel
of a sanctuary island, a place they can visit and treasure. Those people are also a part of the Sanibel
The people who work in Sanibel businesses and non-profits
for the most part live on the mainland. Still,
they are a part of our Sanibel community.
The people who come to work on building, repairing, or
enhancing our built environment and landscapes are also an important part of
our community. Most of them, too, live
And of course, Sanibel visitors are a significant number of
those present on the island every day, especially in late Fall through early
Spring. They are part of the Sanibel
community, too. To protect our greater
Sanibel community, our city council passed a mask mandate last June.
Our entire community depends on the Lee County health care
The COVID numbers we need to consider are not the numbers of
Sanibel residents who have or have had COVID.
We need to look at other numbers that pertain to the county as a whole.
Lee Health – the main health care system that we all depend
on – publishes a small report daily, and a larger one weekly, to provide us
with some useful information. Let’s take
a look at Lee Health’s COVID report for December 14:
That operational bed capacity is an important number to
watch with concern. This is only
December 15. As the population of the
county reaches its seasonal peak this winter, the 85% figure is likely to
become 100% unless we all become even more diligent about staying home, wearing
masks when we must leave the house, avoiding places where the mask mandate is
not respected, avoiding gatherings, washing hands, and maintaining social
Another number of concern in the December 14 report is the
positivity rate (percentage of all tests performed that turn out to be
to Johns Hopkins University, “The higher the percent positive is, the more
concerning it is. As a rule of thumb, however, one threshold for the percent
positive being ‘too high’ is 5%. For example, the World Health Organization
recommended in May that the percent positive remain below 5% for at least two
weeks before governments consider reopening. If we are successful in bringing
coronavirus transmission under control, this threshold might be lowered over
So our 16.2% positivity rate is more than three times higher
than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit for opening.
Large-scale availability of one of the new vaccines is still
months away. In the meantime, we all
need to do better, and our county elected officials need to do much better. The City of Sanibel can do more to enforce
its mask mandate and to inform the greater Sanibel community of where
violations of that mandate are occurring.
That information should not be kept secret; informing the community can
save lives. Keeping secrets can kill.