County COVID positivity rate up again, to 11.14%

320 new cases reported in Sarasota County over seven days through Feb. 8

After declining in recent weeks, Sarasota County’s COVID positivity rate has climbed again, reaching 11.14% for the seven-day average through Feb. 12, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported.

The seven days of data through Feb. 5 had found the level to be 9.22%, as The Sarasota News Leader reported last week. The CDC calculation for the seven days through Jan. 15 put the rate at 10.31%, and then the level fell to 10.06% in the Jan. 22 report.

The total number of new cases recorded in Sarasota County over the seven days through Feb. 8 was 320, the CDC said. That marked 73.78 cases per 100,000 county residents.

Over the seven days through Feb. 1, the CDC noted, 229 new cases were identified in the county. That total was less than one-third of the figure recorded over the seven days through Jan. 25, which was 836, the CDC reported in that update.

The CDC noted that the Feb. 8 figure marked an increase of 39.74%, compared to the total for its previous seven-day average.

However, the CDC also said that, over the seven days through Feb. 13, it had recorded only 33 new admissions of COVID patients to hospitals in the county. That was down 37.5%, the agency pointed out, compared to the previous seven-day calculation.

For the seven days through Feb. 6, the CDC had confirmed 53 new COVID hospital admissions.

Further, the seven days of data through Feb. 13 showed that 3.3% of all hospital beds in the county were occupied by COVID patients. That was up just slightly from the seven-day calculation through Feb. 9, when the total represented 3.2% of the county’s hospital beds. The Feb. 2 figure was 3.6%.

On the flip side, the CDC’s seven days of data through Feb. 13 found that 4.8% of the county’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds were occupied by COVID patients. That was unchanged from the figure in the Feb. 6 CDC data.

The reports produced by Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) staff over the past week have shown a maximum of 59 COVID patients on a given day, reflecting the census for both its Sarasota and Venice campuses. As of Feb. 15 — the last day of SMH data available prior to the deadline for this issue of The Sarasota News Leader — only 50 COVID patients were being cared for by the health care system.

Prior to the News Leader’s previous report — in the Feb. 10 issue — SMH’s highest COVID patient count on a given day was 65; that was recorded on Feb. 6. The lowest number was 52, noted in SMH’s Feb. 9 update.

The highest count of COVID patients in SMH Intensive Care Units over the past week was six, tallied on Feb. 12, the health care system noted. Only one COVID patient was in an ICU bed on Feb. 14, SMH said. On Feb. 15, the figure was two.

In the previous week’s updates, SMH counted no more than five COVID patients in ICU beds on a given day.

In its latest report, the CDC also indicated that fewer than 10 deaths of COVID patients had been recorded in the county over the seven days through Feb. 8. Over the seven days through Feb. 1, the agency noted 10 new deaths. The seven-day CDC total through Jan. 25 was 14.

SMH did record three more patient deaths over the past week, bringing its total to 764 since the first pandemic cases were identified in the county in March 2020. Prior to the News Leader’s Feb. 10 update, SMH had tallied a total of 761 COVID patient deaths.

Among other information in the SMH reports, the health care system said that its COVID patient positivity rate was 6.9% for the week ending Feb. 10. As of Feb. 15, that had fallen slightly, to 6.7%.

The CDC did raise the COVID transmission classification of Sarasota County to “Medium” this week. In its status reports for Sarasota County on Feb. 2 and Feb. 9, the agency designated the county as having “Low” transmission.

The latest CDC map showing the transmission status for all 67 Florida counties — calculated with data collected from Feb. 2 through Feb. 8 — raised the classification for Charlotte and DeSoto counties to “Medium,” as well.

Both the Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 CDC maps of Florida had shown DeSoto County with “Low” transmission. Charlotte County gained that status in the Feb. 2 map.

Manatee County had the “Low” classification on the Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 maps, and it kept that designation on the Feb. 9 map.

The latest map shows even Miami-Dade with “Low” transmission, though it often has had a higher level than many of the other counties, except a swath south of the Georgia border.

Additionally, all of the Panhandle counties had the “Low” designation in the Feb. 9 map.

Along with Sarasota, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Marion counties were marked with “Medium” transmission on the Feb. 9 map.

Across the northern part of the state, the CDC’s Feb. 9 map shows, the swath of counties from south of the Georgia border to the Gulf coast was marked with “High” transmission. That group included Hamilton, Columbia, Baker, Alachua, Levy and Dixie. Those counties have maintained that designation over recent weeks.