VENICE — If the country has “turned a corner” on COVID-19, it may now be on a road to higher rates of infection.
The 65,000 new cases reported nationwide Thursday were the most since July 31.
The upswing led Dr. Anthony Fauci to raise the prospect of families forgoing a Thanksgiving celebration this year, to avoid bringing together people from around the country, especially ones who may be at high risk.
USA Today reported Friday that 14 states recorded new highs in cases and two set records for deaths this week.
In absolute terms the numbers may seem low — Florida reported more than 3,400 new cases Friday — but they translate to about 750-800 cases per million population.
That’s still high enough, given the state’s positivity rate, to designate it as experiencing “uncontrolled spread” on the map at CovidExitStrategy.org.
Florida is among 27 states and Puerto Rico in that category, with another 18 and the District of Columbia designated as “trending poorly.”
In a news briefing Wednesday, Marta Wosinska, of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, said fewer states are in the yellow zone now than at September’s briefing because cases are rising in most of the country.
It may be the fall wave that health officials expressed concern about several months ago, she said.
She noted a correlation between mask-wearing and COVID-19 cases reported this week at The Delphi Blog at Carnegie Mellon University.
Correlation isn’t causation, she said, but North (65%) and South (67%) have the lowest rates of regular mask-wearing in the country and the highest infection rates, data compiled by the blog show.
The rate in Florida is 84%.
As has been seen locally, increases in cases have translated to increases in hospitalization in the Dakotas. There were only 20 ICU beds open in North Dakota earlier in the week, Newsweek reported, with half of them in Fargo.
Locally, ICU occupancy hasn’t been a concern for some time. Nearly half the county’s ICU beds were available Friday, far more than when the virus peaked in July.
Still, Sarasota Memorial Hospital has seen the number of COVID-19 patients creep up along with its positivity rate.
As recently as Sept. 29, the hospital had 18 people hospitalized with the virus and reported a 1.1% positivity rate for the previous seven days.
It had 32 patients Friday and the rate was up to 2.9%.
Venice Regional Bayfront Health had seven cases of COVID-19 hospitalized Friday, with three employees self-quarantining.
The Sarasota County School District reported seven new cases in the previous 48 hours on Friday, and 16 people in quarantine.
Since Aug. 31, 28 staff members and 120 students have tested positive and 102 staff members and 1,382 students have been excluded due to contact with someone who has tested positive.
The numbers reflect the most recent data from the district’s charter schools, some of which are not reporting on a daily or weekly basis.