County’s COVID positivity rate falls to 10.31%

Case count up about 27% in latest seven-day calculation

Although the COVID-19 positivity rate for Sarasota County has declined since last week, as noted in the latest data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the total number of cases has climbed.

Averaged over the seven days through Jan. 15, the positivity rate was 10.31%, the CDC reported. That marked a 5.27% drop from the agency’s previous seven-day calculation, the CDC noted. The seven-day average through Jan. 8 put the rate at 15.47%, as The Sarasota News Leader pointed out in its Jan. 13 issue.

The total number of new COVID-19 cases in the county that the CDC recorded for the seven days through Jan. 11 was 452, which marked a rate of 104.21 per 100,000 residents, the agency also noted. That figure was up almost 27%, compared to the total of 356 for the seven days through Jan. 4.

However, the number of new COVID patients admitted to county hospitals dropped over the past week, further CDC data show. For the seven days through Jan. 9, the agency said it confirmed 71 new admissions, which represented 16.3 persons per 1000,000 county residents. For the seven days through Jan. 16, the CDC said it had confirmed 47 new admissions, which represented 10.9 cases per 100,000 county residents. The CDC added that the count was down 30.8%, compared to its previous seven-day total.

Additionally, the seven days of data through Jan. 16 put the percentage of county staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID patients at 4.4%. That figure, too, marked a decline from last week’s number. The CDC figure for the percentage of total county hospital beds occupied by COVID patients for the seven days through Jan. 9 was 5.6%.

The Jan. 9 data also showed that the number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds with COVID-19 patients in county hospitals represented 4.3% of the total. The CDC did note a climb in the ICU figure for the seven days through Jan. 16. It was 5.6%. The agency said that was up 1.3%, compared to its previous seven-day calculation.

In its updates over the past week, Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) has reported fewer COVID patients at its Sarasota and Venice campuses.

From Jan. 13 through Jan. 19, SMH recorded no more than 66 COVID patients on a given day. The highest daily count from late December 2022 through Jan. 11 was 79, the News Leader noted in its Jan. 13 issue. As of Jan. 11 — the latest date for which SMH data was available prior to the News Leader’s publication on Jan. 13 — the total was 75.

Further, in its reports since Jan. 13, SMH has noted a range from one patient to five in its ICUs. On Jan. 19, the total was four, out of 64 COVID patients in its care. On Jan. 18, the health care system recorded 57 COVID patients at its two campuses, with four in ICU beds.

Additionally, SMH reported that, as of Jan. 19, its COVID positivity rate for all patients was 7.8%. That compared to the figure of 8.1% for the week ending Jan. 13. The rate had climbed to 10% for the week ending Jan. 6.

As for deaths: SMH has reported six more since Jan. 11, for a total of 756 since the first pandemic cases were identified in Florida — in Sarasota County — in March 2020. The health care system further pointed out in its Jan. 19 update that its staff had treated 9,332 COVID patients since the coronavirus outbreak began.

One other update on the CDC website shows that the number of county residents age 65 and older who had received the bivalent booster that first won federal authorization in August 2022 had climbed slightly, to 34.3%. The figure in the CDC’s Jan. 12 chart was 32.5%. The number of county residents age 18 and older who have received that COVID booster is up, as well, week-over-week. The Jan. 19 report puts it at 20%, compared to 18.8% in the Jan. 12 CDC update.

Among other CDC data, the agency map showing COVID-19 transmission levels for each of Florida’s 67 counties — calculated on Jan. 12 with data collected from Jan. 5 through Jan. 11 — put most of them in the “Medium” category — including Sarasota County. Only five counties in the Panhandle — including Bay and Calhoun — and two in the northeast — Putnam and St. Johns — were classified as having “Low” transmission.

The swath of north-central counties, beginning just south of the Georgia border and extending to the Gulf of Mexico, which was marked for weeks with “Medium” transmission, remained at the “High” level as of the Jan. 12 CDC calculation. That was unchanged from the Jan. 5 report.

Miami-Dade was the only county in South Florida with “High” transmission. In Southwest Florida, Hardee County, just east of Manatee County, also was classified at the “High” level.

In a Jan. 17 report, German Lopez of The New York Times pointed out, “Some of the worst days of Covid in the U.S. have come as winters have settled in, and surges led hospitals to overflow and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.” However, Lopez added, “A comparable surge has yet to materialize on a similar timeline this winter. … Instead, data suggests that more of a Covid bump than a surge emerged,” with recent hospitalization figure proving to be much lower than in the past.