Spike in COVID-19 Cases Not Overwhelming Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY JUN 25, 2020

More than 1,000 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in Sarasota County. But Sarasota Memorial Health Care System officials say the increase in diagnoses doesn’t necessarily mean the hospital has been significantly stressed.

Dr Kirk Voelker, director of clinical research for Sarasota Memorial Hospital, said that on Tuesday, the hospital had just six patients in its COVID-19 intensive care unit, which has a standing capacity of about 32 beds. That means the hospital can handle what’s coming its way, but Voelker also said professionals there can quickly expand resources to deal with any surge.

“We have right now a potential 50-something beds that we could create, and we’re using six of them,” he said.

The 1,091 cases reported in Sarasota County by the Department of Health sate back to the first recorded case, at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, on March 1. That said, the recent spike in Florida cases included 286 Sarasota County cases in the seven day period from June 17 to June 23, representing more than 26% of all diagnoses in the county.

Voelker said there’s no question both that there’s a spike in cases and in positivity rates in the region. The county has seen roughly 0.5% of tests coming back positive jump to about 7.5% as of Wednesday morning, a greater than tenfold increase.

But the majority of those are subclinical. The hospital in the same time has seen admissions for COVID-19 hospitalizations go from one every other day or more to now seeing one or two a day. That’s an increase, “but not near the levels needed to overwhelm the hospital,” he said.

An important caveat, the spike in testing over the last week could still deliver greater consequences in coming days. Often patients who contract and test positive for COVID-19 don’t develop the most serious potential symptoms, notably a stomach inflation that causes sickness, for up to a week. “We should see in the next week if this results in more hospitalizations.

Screenshot: Dr Kirk Voelkeranswers questions from the media in a video-conferencing session..

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