COVID positivity rate down to 11.2% in Sarasota County, CDC says, but hospitalizations and deaths up slightly

Once again, county classified with “Medium” transmission status

Averaged for the seven days through Sept. 18, the COVID-19 positivity rate in Sarasota County fell to 11.2%, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this week. That was down from 12.86% on Sept. 11, as The Sarasota News Leader reported in its Sept. 16 issue.

The last time the county had a rate comparable to the one in the new report was in late April. For the seven days through April 24, the figure was 11.43%. For the seven days through April 17, it was 8.57%.

Additionally, the latest CDC data on county cases also showed a decline this week. For the seven days through Sept. 20, the total was 417. For the seven days through Sept. 13, the figure was 525. Thus, the Sept. 20 total marked a decrease of nearly 26%.

The case rate per 100,000 people in Sarasota County, averaged for the seven days through Sept. 22, was 121.04, the CDC reported. That was down nearly 33%, compared to the Sept. 15 figure of 160.93.

However, in its Sept. 22 weekly update for Sarasota County, the CDC noted that 4.5% of all hospital beds in the county were in use by patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections. That was up slightly from the 4.1% figure in the Sept. 15 CDC status report. On Sept. 8, the CDC noted the number of beds in use by COVID patients represented 5.2% of the county’s total.

Nonetheless, the CDC said that, for the seven days through Sept. 19, the number of new patients with COVID-19 admitted to county hospitals was estimated at 58. That number reflected a drop of approximately 34% from the figure of 78 in the Sept. 12 CDC report.

The CDC had confirmed 13.5 new hospital admissions per 100,000 county residents over the seven days through Sept. 19, it reported. That marked a 23.3% drop from the CDC’s previous seven-day average per 100,000 people in Sarasota County, the agency noted.

In its Sept. 12 update, the CDC said it had calculated an average of 18 new COVID hospitalizations in the county per 100,000 residents.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s COVID patient counts at its two campuses — in Sarasota and Venice — have ranged from a high of 50 on Sept. 16 to a low of 42 on Sept. 19. By Sept. 21, the figure was back up to 48, but it declined again on Sept 22, to 46.

Only two of the COVID patients were being cared for in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) campuses on Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, the health care system reported. The highest ICU figure from Sept. 16 through Sept. 21 was five, SMH noted.

As for deaths: The CDC’s latest data prior to the News Leader’s deadline this week showed 16 had occurred in the county over the seven days through Sept. 20. That figure was up 14.29%, the agency pointed out, compared to the previous seven-day total.

For the seven days through Sept. 13, the CDC noted 14 more COVID deaths in the county.

SMH reported more COVID patient deaths over the past week, as well. Its total rose from 709 on Sept. 15 to 713 on Sept. 19. That figure represents all deaths at the hospital’s two campuses since the first COVID cases were identified in the county in March 2020.

On Sept. 22 — for the third weekly update in a row — the CDC classified Sarasota County’s COVID-19 transmission level as “Medium.”

As of Sept. 14 — the latest date for which data was available prior to the deadline for this issue — the CDC reported more Florida counties with a “Medium” rate of transmission. The only county with “Low” status in Southwest Florida, as shown in the Sept. 14 map, was Manatee. The majority of the counties in the Panhandle also had “Low” status, however.

Miami-Dade County was the only one in the southern half of Florida with “High” status on that map.

Given Sarasota County’s “Medium” transmission level, the CDC advised, “Wear a mask if you have symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Wear a mask on public transportation. You may choose to wear a mask at any time as an additional precaution to protect yourself and others. If you are at high risk for severe illness, consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precautions.”