Sarasota Memorial COVID-19 patient count continues sharp daily increases

Sarasota County had 513 more cases in last state update than during previous week

This is the latest ‘heat map,’ showing the number of COVID-19 cases by zip code over the past 14 days. Image courtesy Sarasota County and the Florida Department of Health

On July 30, Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s COVID-19 patient census stood at 115, up from 95 the previous day.

With the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) configured for 62 beds, 59 were filled on July 30, the hospital reported. However, though only 29 of those ICU beds had COVID-positive patients, that figure was up from 23 on July 29, the hospital noted.

Six days later, Sarasota Memorial (SMH) had a total of 160 COVID-positive patients, a jump from 140 on Aug. 4, the hospital said in its daily update.

The ICU bed capacity had been increased to 78, the report noted. Of the 70 patients in the ICU on Aug. 5, the report said, 36 were COVID-positive, an increase of four from the previous day’s count.

With the State of Florida continuing to provide only weekly updates on COVID statistics, a Sarasota County report released on Aug. 5 noted that, from July 23 to July 29, the county saw 1,412 more cases identified. The new figure surpassed the previous week’s total by 513 cases, the report said.

The positivity rate for the past seven days had climbed to 13.3%, the report said, which was up 1.4 points from the figure in the state update.

Altogether, that county report added, 35,675 COVID-19 cases had been recorded in Sarasota County since March 2020.

Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center report for Aug. 5 put the total case number in Sarasota County at 37,273, with 844 deaths since the pandemic began.

This graph in the county’s Aug. 5 report shows the changes in COVID-19 positivity over the past couple of months, based on state data. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The report did note that, altogether, 278,099 of county residents are fully vaccinated. Depending upon the source, the county has between approximately 420,000 and 441,000 residents.

The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) continues to encourage members of the public who have not done so to get vaccinated. Sarasota Memorial’s infectious diseases division chief and the hospital’s medical director — along with county Health Department leaders — stress that vaccination is the best defense against the Delta variant of the virus, which has been cited as the biggest concern in recent weeks because of the ease of its transmission.

DOH Sarasota offers COVID-19 vaccinations, with no appointment necessary, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at its offices located at 2200 Ringling Blvd. in downtown Sarasota and at 6950 Outlook Way in North Port.

The department has the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Vaccines are also available at multiple community outlets, which can be located at www.vaccines.gov, the department points out.

Anyone who would like more information may call 941-861-2883.

DOH-Sarasota also continues to remind the public that COVID-19 drive-through testing is offered at the site operated by Nomi Health at the former Sarasota Kennel Club, located at 5400 Old Bradenton Road in Sarasota (34234). The site is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it will test anyone regardless of symptoms.

However, DOH-Sarasota points out, because of the recent high demand for testing, people can expect a three-hour wait.

This is part of Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s COVID-19 patient census as of Aug. 5. Image courtesy SMH

On Aug. 4, former Sarasota County Commissioner Carolyn Mason emailed the county commissioners, pointing out, “Governor [Ron] DeSantis recently espoused that local governments received CARES dollars and if they do [desire], some of these dollars could be spent on such testing. With the recent spike in Sarasota County’s COVID-19 numbers (positive), would you be willing to authorize a site in North county and the one in South county so mass testing can take place? Walgreens and CVS can only do so much.”

She noted that staff at the former Sarasota Kennel Club site has been warning people of a three-hour wait.
“PLEASE HELP!” Mason concluded her email.

County Administrator Jonathan Lewis responded to her, since the commissioners are on their summer break until the week of Aug. 16.

Lewis explained in an email that all “but a small portion” of the CARES money was spent before the end of 2020. “As you know,” he continued, we put [$50 million] into local business and the rest for the most part went to social services, health and individual assistance.”

Nonetheless, Lewis added, county Health Officer Chuck Henry “is looking at ways to bring more testing [options to communities] without more financial impact.”

Staff also is researching the potential use of the American Rescue Plan funds, Lewis noted, referring to the more recent federal action to deliver “direct relief to the American people, [rescue] the American economy and [start] to beat the virus,” as the White House website points out.

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