County COVID positivity rate rises slightly, to 10.08%

Case count declines week-over-week, CDC shows, though Sarasota Memorial reports higher COVID patient totals

The COVID-19 positivity rate for Sarasota County has climbed a bit over the past week, reaching 10.08%, as reflected in the seven-day average through Nov. 27, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted on its website.

The figure for the seven-day average through Nov. 19 was 8.99%, as The Sarasota News Leader reported in its Nov. 25 issue.

The seven-day average through Nov. 13 was 9.29%, the CDC reported at that time.

However, the number of new COVID cases in the county declined, week-over-week, the latest CDC data show. The total for the seven days through Nov. 23 was 272. That compares to the seven-day figure of 285 through Nov. 16. The CDC pointed out that its Nov. 23 total reflected a 4.56% drop over the past week.

Among other data, the CDC’s Dec. 1 status report for the county put the case rate per 100,000 residents at 62.71. That also marked a drop from the Nov. 23 figure, which was 65.71. On Nov. 17, the rate per 100,000 residents was 72.39, the CDC noted at that time.

Again, all of those figures were derived from seven-day averages.

However, the CDC’s Dec. 1 status report did show that the number of new COVID-19 patients admitted to county hospitals over the previous week was 13 per 100,000 residents. That was up slightly from the Nov. 20 seven-day total of 12.6 per 100,000 county residents.

Using data collected over seven days through Nov. 28, the CDC also said that it estimated 50 new COVID patients had been admitted to county hospitals. It had confirmed 11.5 new admissions per 100,000 county residents, the agency added. Those figures did mark slight drops from the Nov. 20 numbers. Over the seven days through Nov. 20, the CDC said it had estimated 54 new COVID patients admitted to county hospitals, and it had confirmed 12.6 new admissions per 100,000 residents.

Further, the CDC’s Dec. 1 status report showed that 3.9% of all of the county’s hospital beds were in use by COVID-19 patients. That was down from 4% in the Nov. 23 update.

The percentage of COVID patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in the county also was lower in the latest report. The figure reflecting the seven-day average through Nov. 28 was 3.1%. The seven-day average through Nov. 14 was 4.8%.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) did not provide a report on its COVID caseload on Nov. 25. This week, the number of those patients being cared for at its Sarasota and Venice campuses has climbed, compared to the previous week’s reports.

As the News Leader noted in its Nov. 25 issue, the highest COVID patient count for a given day from Nov. 18 through Nov. 23 in the SMH reports was 46. From Nov. 27 through Dec. 1, the highest total was 54, the health care system said. That was the figure on Nov. 29. By Dec. 1, the number was down to 51.

The Nov. 27 total was 43, SMH reported.

However, no more than three of those COVID patients have been in the ICUs since Nov. 28, the updates show.

Additionally, SMH has reported two more deaths this week, bringing its total to 735 since the first COVID cases were identified in the county in March 2020. The Nov. 27 total was 734, SMH said; then, the number climbed to 735 on Nov. 30.

The CDC’s report for the seven days through Nov. 23 showed a total of 14 more deaths in the county. That was up 75% from the previous seven-day figure, the CDC said.

In its Nov. 16 update for the seven days through that date, the CDC pointed to fewer than 10 deaths, though it did not provide an exact number.

Further, SMH noted on Dec. 1 that its COVID positivity rate as of that date was 6.2%. That was the same figure that the health care system noted for the week ending Nov. 25. SMH’s positivity rate has been going up recently. For the week ending Nov. 18, the figure was 5.5%.

Among other CDC updates this week, the agency continued to show most of Florida’s 67 counties with a “Low” transmission level of the virus. The CDC map using data calculated from Nov. 16 through Nov. 22 depicted essentially the same clusters of counties — including Sarasota — with “Medium” classifications” that the agency reported in its previous seven-day calculation. Along with Sarasota County in Southwest Florida, Charlotte and DeSoto counties were found to have “Medium” status.

The other cluster of “Medium” counties remained in the north-central part of the state, from Hamilton and Columbia counties on the Georgia border to Dixie and Levy counties on the Gulf of Mexico. However, unlike the map on Nov. 16, Baker County was not included in that group.