COVID-19 positivity rate down to 11.6% in county as of Sept. 23, CDC says, and Sarasota Memorial reporting steady decline in number of infected patients

Vaccination figures continue to rise

This is the latest Florida Department of Health graph showing the trend in COVID-19 positivity for Sarasota County over the past months. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to classify Sarasota County as a community with a high level of COVID-19 transmission, it also reported on Sept. 23 that the seven-day positivity rate for the county has dropped to 11.6%.

A week ago, the rate was 15.16%.

Additionally, the total number of new Sarasota County cases for the seven-day period ending on Sept. 21 was 1,450, the CDC noted. That was a drop of 32.21% from the prior seven-day figure, the agency pointed out.

The Florida Department of Health report on COVID-19 cases for the week of Sept. 10-16 shows 75,906 new infections statewide, which is not quite half the peak figure of 151,880 noted in the update for the week of Aug. 20. According to the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee, the highest positivity level for the state since the week of July 9 came during the week of Aug. 13, when it hit the 20.5% mark.

On Sept. 16, Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) reported that it had 187 COVID-19 patients, with 64 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). A week later, on Sept. 23, the total number of COVID patients was down to 143, a 30% drop. The ICU count was 54 on Sept. 23, which marked an 18% decrease in seven days.

The hospital’s weekly graphic showing COVID data, released on Sept. 22, noted that of the 150 COVID patients that day, 124 were unvaccinated; of the 57 COVID patients in the ICU, 53 were unvaccinated. SMH also pointed out that 53 of those COVID patients in the ICU were on ventilators.

This is the Sarasota Memorial Hospital graphic regarding COVID-19 patient data as of Sept. 22. Image courtesy SMH

As for patient deaths resulting from COVID-19: The total was 438 on Sept. 16. A week later, the figure had climbed to 461, a 5.2% uptick.

As The Sarasota News Leader reported in its Sept. 17 issue, SMH also has been providing information about patients originally hospitalized because of COVID who have cleared the infection but remain under staff care because of complications. As of Sept. 23, that number was 49 for the general patient population. For those in the ICU, the figure was 20.

Altogether on Sept. 23, the ICU census was 79.

The bed capacity for the unit had been lowered to 90, SMH reported. On Sept. 17, it was 100.

This graphic sums up the latest state data for Sarasota County, from the week of Sept. 10-16. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Health care professionals have continued to stress that vaccinations are the best protection against the virus, including the Delta variant, which produced the surge that SMH staff began documenting in July.

On Sept. 22, when the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System Facebook page featured the latest graphic showing data for patients infected with the virus, the accompanying post noted, “We’re relieved to not only see our COVID-19 patient census decline, but to also see that COVID-19 vaccines continue to protect the vast majority of our patients from severe illness.”

The posts included these hashtags:

#ThisIsYourShot #ThisIsOurShot #GetVaccinated

The CDC’s vaccination data for Sarasota County as of Sept. 23 do show that the rates have been continuing to climb.

The total number of residents who had been fully vaccinated as of that date was 267,525, the CDC said. On Sept. 16, the figure was 263,983.

The age group with the highest percentage of fully vaccinated people continues to be the one with those 65 and older, the CDC also points out. On Sept. 23, the figure was 84.7%; a week ago, it was 84.2%.

This is the CDC vaccination data for Sarasota County as shown on the agency’s website on Sept. 23. Image courtesy CDC

Vaccination opportunities

In a Sept. 23 update, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) reported that it will be offering COVID-19 vaccines this weekend “to interested community members during two pop-up vaccination events.” One will be held at Riverview High School, located at 1 Ram Way in Sarasota. That event will provide first and second doses of Pfizer vaccine. It will be conducted from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Additionally, the report says, DOH-Sarasota staff will be at the Sarasota Community Church, located at 4041 Bahia Vista St. in Sarasota, offering first and second doses of Pfizer vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; on Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Any member of the public is welcome at either event, G. Steve Huard, the public information officer for DOH-Sarasota, has emphasized.

“DOH Sarasota continues to monitor the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot as well as the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11,” the report said. DOH-Sarasota is prepared to begin administering those shots it “once they meet full approval,” the report added.

The CDC has authorized third doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, at least 28 days after completion of the initial series, for “people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised,” the DOH-Sarasota update pointed out.

Eligible immunocompromised persons are as follows, the reports said:

  • Patients who have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.
  • Patients who received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress their immune systems.
  • Patients who received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or who are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • Patients with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
  • Individuals with advanced or untreated HIV infection.
  • Persons on active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress their immune response.

The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be vital to ending the pandemic, including combating the recent case increases locally, nationally and globally,” the DOH-Sarasota update stresses.

These graphs show positivity and new case trends statewide over the past months. Image courtesy Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee

DOH-Sarasota continues to offer COVID-19 vaccinations, with no appointment necessary, at its health department locations in downtown Sarasota and in North Port, the update notes.

The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; and from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Friday at the 2200 Ringling Blvd. location in downtown Sarasota.

The vaccines are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each of those days at the 6950 Outreach Way facility in North Port, the update adds.

This is the Sept. 22 ‘heat map’ showing new Sarasota County cases over the previous 14 days by zip code. Image courtesy Sarasota County and Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County

Individuals also can get COVID-19 vaccines at multiple community outlets. To find the nearest location, visit www.vaccines.gov, DOH-Sarasota advises the public.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in Sarasota County, visit http://sarasota.floridahealth.gov.

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