COVID-19 positivity rate up to 15.19% in Sarasota County, CDC reports, with transmission level raised from ‘Low’ to ‘Medium’

Patient count more than doubles at Sarasota Memorial Hospital campuses from May 6 to May 12

Image courtesy CDC

On May 12, in its weekly update, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised Sarasota County’s COVID-19 transmission level from “Low” to “Medium.”

At the same time, the number of patients with COVID-19 being treated at the Sarasota and Venice campuses of Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) has more than doubled from May 6 to May 12, the hospital reports show.

Averaged over the seven days through May 8, the CDC said that the county’s positivity rate was 15.19%. That was the latest figure available prior to the publication of this issue of The Sarasota News Leader.

In its report on the seven-day average through May 1, the CDC put the positivity rate at 12.67%, as the News Leader noted in its May 6 issue.

Thus, the new level is up almost 20% from May 1.

The positivity rate has been climbing consistently over the past month.

Image courtesy CDC

In its May 8 chart, the CDC also pointed out that the positivity rate had climbed 2.05% from the previous seven-day average.

The total number of Sarasota County COVID-19 cases reported to the CDC for the seven days through May 10 was 626, the agency said. That was up 23.23%, compared to the figure for the previous seven-day average.

The case rate per 100,000 people in the county as of May 12 was 117.12, the CDC said. That is 22% higher than the case rate per 100,000 people of 95.91, which the CDC reported on May 5.

Further, the May 12 CDC summary of the county’s COVID-19 status put the number of new hospital admissions per 100,000 people at 10.6 over the past week. That represented a spike of almost 74%, compared to the figure of 6.1 in the May 5 chart.

This is the summary for Sarasota County as of May 12. Image courtesy CDC

In regard to the Sarasota Memorial data over the past week: On May 6, the two SMH campuses had a total of 15 COVID-19 patients, with only one in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

By May 8, the count had risen to 20. While none of them was in an ICU on May 8, three persons did need care in the ICU as of May 9, SMH noted.

Then, on May 10, the COVID-19 patient total jumped to 26. That day, SMH reported, five of those individuals were in the ICUs, between the Sarasota and Venice campuses.

On May 11, the patient count climbed again, to 29, but one less person was in the ICUs.

By May 12, SMH said it had 32 COVID-19 patients in the two hospitals, but only one was in the ICU, compared to four on May 11.

The SMH count of patient deaths did rise by one from May 5 to May 6, but the total has remained steady since then, the hospital’s data show. Altogether, since the first pandemic cases were identified in Sarasota in March 2020, SMH has recorded 656 deaths from the coronavirus.

For the week ending May 6, SMH added, the COVID-19 positivity rate at the hospital was 9.1%. That was up almost 72% from the 5.3% positivity rate for the week ending April 29, based on SMH reports.

In other COVID-19 data for Sarasota County, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center noted on May 12 that the case rate for Sarasota County, averaged over the previous seven days, was 38.6 per 100,000 people. That was the highest figure the News Leader found in Southwest Florida. Both Manatee and Lee counties had rates of 32 on May 12; for Pinellas County, the figure was 34.4; for Charlotte County, 33; and for Hillsborough County, 31.1.

Miami-Dade County appeared to have the highest case rate per 100,000 people for the state, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center data on May 12: 87.3. Broward’s rate was 55.7, and Palm Beach County’s was 44.5 per 100,000 people.

This is the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center map for Florida on May 12. Image courtesy of the Resource Center

Health officials nationwide have voiced concern that case rates may be even higher than those noted in official reports. On April 18, CNN reported that the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation was estimating that only 7% of positive COVID-19 cases in the United States were being detected because so many people have been testing themselves at home or in other settings outside health care facilities and not notifying their physicians or health departments if they find they have the coronavirus.

CNN added that the CDC “has updated its own metrics to determine what Covid-19 restrictions may be necessary. Rather than relying on case counts, hospitalizations are weighed more heavily. The agency also tracks other indicators, like the levels of virus being detected in wastewater.”

On May 9 — the latest date for which the News Leader could find CDC data prior to the publication of this issue — the CDC said that the number of staffed inpatient beds in use by individuals in Sarasota County with confirmed COVID-19 cases represented 2.4% of all hospital beds in the county. That was up 0.5% from the previous seven-day figure, the agency noted.

This is the May 12 CDC chart showing vaccination data for Sarasota County. Image courtesy CDC
This is the May 12 CDC chart showing data for first boosters in the county. Image courtesy CDC

2 thoughts on “COVID-19 positivity rate up to 15.19% in Sarasota County, CDC reports, with transmission level raised from ‘Low’ to ‘Medium’”

  1. Interesting. But how many cases of Covid are not reported. eg my husband and I had mild cases. We quarantined for 10days but we never reported it. So is the percentage actually higher?

  2. I’m on the CDC Website and it says low for Sarasota County. I guess it was switched back since 05/12? Today is 05/16.

    Editor’s Note: Subjective indicators such as “low,” medium” or “high” do not adequately inform the public, when positivity rate is a more precise measure (and that does not take into account the possibility that an untrained employee inadvertently changed the county rating from “medium” to “low” this week). This is demonstrated by the fact that, as of May 18, the positivity rate for the county, according to the CDC, has jumped to 17.4%, a significant increase over that reported in our article on May 13. And, as another commenter noted, not everyone who becomes infected reports this fact to the health department or hospital, making it almost certain that the true positivity rate is much higher. This is coupled with the laissez faire policy of the state with regard to both testing and reporting accurate results to the CDC, which further muddies the true – and undoubtedly more serious – picture.

    It also is important to note that epidemiologists consider any positivity rate greater than 10% to be an “out of control” infection. So the positivity rate in our county has been out of control for several weeks now. Sarasotans would be wise to limit gatherings in crowded spaces and/or wear a mask in public settings.

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