VENICE — Local public beaches are open again on a limited basis and Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to announce the next steps in “reopening” the state on Wednesday.

But Monday was a comparatively bad day regarding COVID-19 in the county, according to Venice Fire Chief Shawn Carvey.

After several days in which new cases were in the 30-40 range they spiked to 134 on Monday, he told the Venice City Council on Tuesday.

The number is attributable to increased testing, he said. The Department of Health-Sarasota conducted testing at three drive-thru sites last week and three this week, so more people who have been exposed to the coronavirus are being detected.

The tests have taken place in Laurel, North Port and Sarasota.

The spike hasn’t translated into an increase in hospital admissions for it, however.

As of Tuesday, Sarasota Memorial Hospital reported 33 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, while Venice Regional Bayfront Health had only one.

ICU bed availability countywide was at nearly 59%, significantly higher that it has been recently.

According to authorities, 23 Sarasota Memorial Hospital employees have tested positive. Venice Regional reports that two shared employees are isolating at home.

A total of 22 COVID-19 patients at SMH have died, while three have died at Venice Regional.

Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and Englewood Community Hospital don’t release their COVID-19 statistics.

Through Tuesday morning, the state Department of Health reported a total of 334 positive cases in the county, with 39 deaths and, cumulatively, 118 hospitalizations.

The department also reported 31 patients and 25 staff members in long-term care facilities in the county have tested positive and 19 have died.

Statewide there were nearly 33,000 positive cases and 1,171 deaths.

Dade County accounts for more than one-third of the positive cases in the state and more than a quarter of the deaths.

Another 15% of the cases and 15% of the death were in Broward County, just north of Dade.


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