County’s COVID positivity rate down to 9.42%

Latest case count averages 50.49 per 100,000 county residents

Sarasota County’s COVID positivity rate has declined again this week, to 9.42%, averaged over the seven days through March 19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported.

As The Sarasota News Leader noted in its March 17 issue, the rate had climbed to 10.72%, based on data averaged over the seven days through March 12. On March 5, the seven-day figure was 8.48%.

Further, although the CDC did not have a current case count for Sarasota County in data that the News Leader reviewed for its March 17 issue, the agency has reported a total of 219 new cases over the seven days through March 15. The CDC added that that number reflected a 14.12% decrease from the previous seven-day average.

The case rate per 100,000 county residents was 50.49, the CDC pointed out in its March 23 status update for Sarasota County.

Further, over the seven days through March 20, the CDC said it had confirmed that 58 new COVID patients had been admitted to hospitals in the county, occupying 3.3% of all available beds. Those figures were unchanged from the numbers that the agency reported for the seven days through March 13.

For the seven days through Feb. 27, the CDC put the new COVID patient admissions to county hospitals at 45.

Additionally, the CDC noted that the number of COVID patients in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in the county over the seven days through March 20 represented 2.6% of those beds. The agency pointed out that that figure was down 0.3% from the prior seven-day calculation.

The agency’s March 13 report said that 2.9% of all ICU beds were in use by COVID patients, reflecting data the CDC had collected over the seven days through that date.

The agency did maintain the COVID transmission status for Sarasota County as “Medium” on March 23, which was unchanged from the March 16 status update. The status was “Low” in the March 9 update, but it also was “Medium” in the March 2 report.

As indicated by tourism data recorded over the years in the county, March typically is the busiest month from tourists from many different parts of the United States.

Only three counties among the 67 in Florida were classified at the “Medium” level based on data the CDC had collected from March 9 through March 15, the agency indicated on its latest Florida map. Along with Sarasota, the other counties were DeSoto and Charlotte.

Even the swath of counties in north-central Florida that often has been marked with a higher transmission level over recent months was in the “Low” category.

Among other details in its latest reports, the CDC noted the number of new COVID deaths in the county was below 10, based on the seven days of record-keeping through March 15. However, the agency also pointed out that the death rate was “suppressed,” which reflects a lack of reporting from the state, as the News Leaderhas explained in the past.

In the Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) COVID patient updates over the past week, no new deaths were reported. The total for the health care system since the first pandemic cases were identified in the county — in March 2020 — remained at 769.

Further, SMH has noted generally lower COVID patient counts since March 17, as shown in its daily reports.

On March 17 and on March 20, SMH said it had 44 COVID patients divided between its Sarasota and Venice campuses. That was the highest figure in any of the health care system’s reports over the past week.

By March 23, the number had declined to 37.

From March 10 through March 16, SMH reported COVID patient counts ranging from 38 to 43, with the latter figure noted on March 16.

Moreover, mirroring the situation last week, the health care system over the past seven days noted mostly smaller tallies of COVID patients in its ICU beds. The exception came on March 23, when the figure was four. On the other days, SMH reported no more than two COVID patients in its ICUs. In fact, on March 20, no COVID patient was occupying an ICU bed.

Among other SMH data, the positivity rate for all patients for the week ending March 17 was 7.8%. On March 23, the health care system put the rate at 7.6%.