County’s COVID-19 positivity rate declines to 8.99%, and total case count falls, CDC reports

Higher percentage of ICU beds in county occupied by COVID patients, however

Sarasota County’s COVID-19 positivity rate has declined again, as shown in the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, the percentage of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in use by COVID patients admitted to county hospitals has gone up, the CDC reported.

Averaged over the seven days through Nov. 19, the positivity rate was 8.99%, the CDC said. That compared to the rate of 9.29% averaged over the seven days through Nov. 13.

In regard to the ICU situation: Last week, The Sarasota News Leader reported that the CDC’s data averaged over the seven days through Nov. 14 put the percentage of those beds in use by COVID-19 patients at 4.8% of the county’s total.

The latest CDC information available prior to the News Leader’s early deadline this week for the Thanksgiving holiday put the seven-day average at 5.9%; that was based on data collected through Nov. 20.

The CDC did estimate that only 54 new COVID patients had been admitted to county hospitals over the seven days through Nov. 20. That marked a drop of about 18.5%, compared to the estimate of 64 new patient admissions for the seven days through Nov. 14.

Additionally, the CDC reported, it had confirmed 12.6 new COVID-19 patient admissions in the county per 100,000 residents for the seven days through Nov. 20. That figure, too, was down. The seven-day number averaged through Nov. 14 was 14.7 patients per 100,000 county residents.

The CDC said its Nov. 20 estimate reflected a 5.7% drop from its previous seven-day number.

On another positive note, the total number of cases in the county that the CDC had recorded for the seven days through Nov. 16 was 285. For the seven days through Nov. 9, the figure was 314. The CDC noted that its Nov. 16 figure marked a 9.24% drop, compared to its previous seven-day number.

Additionally, the CDC’s status update for Sarasota County, shown on the agency’s website on Nov. 23, put the case rate per 100,000 residents at 65.71, averaged over seven days. That also was down, about 10%, compared to the average for the seven days through Nov. 17, which was 72.39 per 100,000 residents.

However, that status update showed that 4% of the county’s total number of hospital beds were in use by COVID-19 patients. That did mark a slight climb from the Nov. 17 figure of 3.8%.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) reports on its COVID-19 patient census have put the highest number over the past week at 46, which was the total for its Sarasota and Venice campuses on Nov. 21. The figure was 41 on both Nov. 22 and 23.

Of those patients, no more than four have been in the SMH ICUs since Nov. 18. The total on Nov. 23 was two.

The health care system has recorded two more COVID deaths over the past week. The total for SMH facilities since the first pandemic cases were identified in Florida — in Sarasota County in March 2020 — was 733 as of Nov. 22.

Further, SMH noted that its positivity rate as of Nov. 23 was 6%; that compared to 5.5% for the week ending Nov. 18.

Among other CDC data: The Nov. 23 weekly status report for Sarasota County classified the COVID-19 transmission level as “Medium.” The CDC map for the state of Florida, reflecting all 67 counties’ transmission levels calculated with data from Nov. 9 through Nov. 15, showed only two other Southwest Florida counties at that level — DeSoto and Charlotte. All of the rest were put at the “Low” level.

The map also showed a cluster of counties in the north-central part of the state with “Medium” transmission, as the CDC has noted in past reports.

The most recent, prior CDC map for Florida on which the News Leader saw that cluster was based on seven days of data collected through Oct. 11.

The Nov. 16 map again included Hamilton, Columbia and Baker counties on the Georgia border. The cluster also stretched once more to Dixie and Levy counties on the Gulf of Mexico; Alachua County was part of the group.