County’s COVID positivity rate down slightly, to 12.8%

Lack of reporting from Florida Health Department impeding CDC from providing updated case information

 Sarasota County’s COVID positivity rate declined a bit this week, to 12.8%,based on the seven-day average through April 9, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported.

As The Sarasota News Leader noted in its April 7 issue, the seven-day average through April 2 was 12.94%.

The rate has gradually climbed over the past few weeks. The CDC’s seven-day average calculated through March 19 put the figure at 9.42%. Then, the March 26 figure rose to 11.21%.

In comparison, the seven-day positivity rate for Sarasota County for the seven days through April 3, 2022 was 4.66%. The figure rose to 6.61% for the seven-day average through April 10, 2022, the CDC noted at the time.

Further, like last week, the latest CDC reports on Sarasota County include no new case count.

The Tampa Bay Times reported on April 7, “Federal health officials haven’t published the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in Florida for two weeks, leaving residents in the dark on the state’s latest infections and fatalities.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention usually releases the data online each Thursday,” the Times’ article continued. “But it said ‘potential technical issues’ prevented Florida from reporting ‘aggregate case and death data’ for the week ending March 29.”

As of the afternoon of April 7, the Times added, “the [CDC] also listed zero new cases and deaths statewide for the week ending April 5, noting that “ ‘due to ongoing technical improvements in Florida’s surveillance system,’ ” the state Department of Health requested a ‘temporary pause’ on submitting COVID-19 data” to the federal agency.

Just before midday on April 13, when the News Leader checked the website of the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee, the most recent COVID data provided was for the week of March 24 to March 30.

Further, as the News Leader pointed out last week, Sarasota Memorial Hospital ceased releasing daily COVID updates on March 24.

The CDC’s status update for Sarasota County, shown on its website on April 13, said the COVID-19 transmission level had dropped to “Low.” In fact, every county on the agency’s latest Florida map was accorded that classification. The map was produced on April 6, reflecting data collected from March 30 through April 5, the CDC noted. That was the same period of time without new updates from the Florida Department of Health.

The CDC’s state map reflecting data it had about county cases from March 23 through 29 showed only three counties with “Medium” transmission levels — Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto. Every other county was marked with “Low” transmission.

Among other Sarasota County details the CDC did have available this week, the agency said that the number of new COVID patients admitted to hospitals in the county over the seven days through April 13 represented only 8.8 people per 100,000 county residents. The number of hospital beds in use by COVID patients reflected 3.1% of the total, the agency added.

For the seven days through March 23 — the latest information available for the News Leader’s April 7 issue — the case rate per 100,000 county residents was 50.49, the CDC noted.

A CDC chart with data accumulated over the seven days through April 10 showed 32 new admissions of COVID-19 patients to county hospitals, though the chart pointed out that that figure was an estimate. The chart added that the admissions figure was down 34.2% from the previous seven-day tally.

The April 10 CDC chart also said that the number of county hospital beds with COVID patients represented 2.2% of the total. The federal agency further reported that the number of staffed Intensive Care Unit beds in use by COVID patients in county hospitals represented 2.7% of the total.

A year ago — in its April 14, 2022 status update for Sarasota County — the CDC reported that the number of new COVID cases per 100,000 county residents was 53.49, and the hospital beds in use by COVID patients represented 1.3% of the county total.