VENICE — With the first week of Phase 1 of the “reopening” of the state coming to a close, government officials will be watching COVID-19 numbers for any evidence of a resurgence.
Beaches are open, restaurants and formerly “nonessential” retail businesses are back in operation on a limited basis and hospitals are performing elective surgeries again.
Barbershops and hair and nail salons can reopen on Monday under enhanced safety protocols.
The statistical background for Sarasota County against which the potential impact of those changes will be evaluated has generally been trending in the right direction.
According to the state Department of Health’s May 8 summary for the county, the number of new cases of COVID-19 has been in the single digits 11 of the last 14 days and the percentage of new positive tests has been less than 6% on 10 of them.
The county averaged seven new cases a day for that period.
Through Friday morning, the county had reported a total of 416 cases, with 54 deaths, according to DOH.
A total of 135 people have been hospitalized, representing 34% of the cases compared to 18% of cases statewide.
On Friday, Sarasota Memorial Hospital reported 39 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 out of a census of 605 patients. There were no COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Venice Regional Bayfront Health.
The 54 deaths represent 14% of all cases, compared to a 4% rate at the state level.
As of Monday, 22 patients had died at SMH and the hospital had reported 129 positive results.
However, it had also treated a number of patients tested elsewhere and in the early days of the pandemic saw suspected cases of COVID-19 in patients who weren’t tested because they didn’t meet the testing protocols then.
The fatality rate at SMH is below 11%, according to Public Information Officer Kim Savage, though the hospital is still compiling data.
Of the patients who had died, the majority “are in their 70s and 80s, and most had co-morbidities that contributed to their death,” she said.
Three patients have died from COVID-19 at Venice Regional. Doctors Hospital and Englewood Community Hospital don’t release their statistics.
DOH statistics also show that the percentage of daily emergency room visits for complaints of cough, fever or shortness or breath — symptoms of COVID-19 — has declined significantly over the last six weeks.