County’s COVID positivity rate down again, to 9.22%

Total number of new cases more than three-and-a-half times lower than previous week’s count

Sarasota County’s COVID-19 positivity level has continued to trend downward, reaching 9.22% for the seven-day average through Feb. 5,

as noted in the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The figure for the seven-day average through Jan. 29 was 9.99%, as The Sarasota News Leader reported last week.

Additionally, the latest CDC data show that the number of new COVID cases in the county has continued to fall. The average per 100,000 county residents for the seven days through Feb. 9 was 52.8, the CDC said. That compares to 192.74 per 100,000 residents in the federal agency’s Feb. 2 status update for Sarasota County. The Feb. 2 figure had marked a jump from 102.37 per 100,000 residents, as noted in the CDC’s Jan. 26 report.

For the seven days through Feb. 1, 229 new COVID cases were identified in the county, the CDC said.

For the seven days through Jan. 25, the CDC reported 836 new cases in the county, a number more than three-and-a-half times higher than the total through Feb. 1.

Additionally, based on information the agency collected over the seven days through Feb. 9, the number of hospital beds in the county that were occupied by COVID patients represented 3.2% of the total. That was down from 3.6%, as the CDC reported on Feb. 2. The seven days of data the CDC used in issuing its Jan. 26 status update for the county put the figure at 4.4%.

However, the number of COVID patients being cared for in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in the county has climbed, as the CDC noted, referencing data collected over the seven days through Feb. 6. The ICU beds with COVID patients in the county represented 4.8% of the total. That was up from the 4% figure in the CDC’s Jan. 30 report.

The CDC pointed out that its ICU figure was up 0.8%, compared to the previous seven-day calculation.

Additionally, the CDC noted that, for the seven days through Feb. 6, it had confirmed 53 new hospital admissions of COVID patients in the county. That number, it said, was up 37.9%, compared to the previous seven-day figure.

As the News Leader reported last week, the CDC put the number of new hospitalizations over the seven days through Jan. 30 at 37.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) data over the past week have shown a fluctuation in the number of COVID patients that the health care system has been treating at its Sarasota and Venice campuses. On Feb. 3, the total was 61, with four in ICU beds. By Feb. 6, the number had risen to 65, with five of those in an ICU. Then, by Feb. 9, the total patient count was down to 52, but five of those were in ICU beds.

Between Jan. 27 and Feb. 2, the highest number of COVID patients SMH reported on a given day was 53, and no more than four COVID patients were in ICU beds during that same period.

Among other data in its latest reports, the CDC said it had recorded 10 new COVID deaths in the county over the seven days through Feb. 1. The figure in the agency’s Jan. 25 report was 14. The CDC added that its seven-day average through Feb. 1 marked a 28.57% drop from the previous seven day average.

SMH recorded two more COVID patients’ deaths over the past week, bringing its total to 761 since the first pandemic cases were identified in the county in March 2020.

Among other SMH data, the health care system noted that its overall COVID positivity rate was 7.5% on Feb. 9. For the week ending Feb. 3, SMH said, the figure was 6.9%.

The CDC kept Sarasota County’s COVID transmission classification level at “Low” in its Feb. 9 status report; no change from the Feb. 2 update.

Further, the agency’s latest state map showing all 67 counties’ transmission levels — reflecting data collected from Jan. 26 through Feb. 1 — illustrated improvements. The Jan. 26 map showed only two other counties besides Sarasota in Southwest Florida with “Low” transmission: Manatee and DeSoto. The Feb. 2 map put Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties in that category, along with Hendry and Glades in the southwest part of the state.

Moreover, a swath of counties stretching from Nassau and Baker on the Georgia border, south to Brevard and Indian River on the Atlantic coast, had “Low” transmission levels, the CDC showed. Orange, Lake and Sumter also had that classification.

Further, in the Panhandle, the counties from the Mississippi border east to the Georgia border, and south on the Gulf coast to Bay and Gulf counties, were marked with “Low” levels.

Only the group of counties in central Florida immediately south of the Georgia border continued to be identified with “High” transmission levels, the CDC noted. That group includes Hamilton, Columbia, Alachua, Dixie and Levy counties.

As for the latest county vaccination data recorded by the CDC: The chart on the agency’s website on Feb. 9 showed that 35.2% of Sarasota County residents age 65 and older have received the latest, bivalent, booster, which was designed to attack more recent variants of the coronavirus. Of all county residents ages 5 and older, only 18.6% have received that booster, the CDC said.