VENICE — The U.S. set a record for daily COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with more than 104,000 reported.

The record lasted all of one day: 117,988 cases were reported Thursday, with 20 states setting their own records and deaths nationally exceeding 1,000 for the third straight day.

Florida isn’t setting records, but the state’s number aren’t improving either.

Locally, both the number of hospitalizations and the rate of positive tests are trending up.

The state testing facility at 100 Cattlemen Road in Sarasota had vehicles snaking around the driveway of the facility. Officials there said the testing site saw a surge in people using the drive-thru facility on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people were seeking the tests on Friday afternoon.

That facility is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

The state reported 5,195 new COVID-19 cases Friday, with a positivity rate of 6.36% — the eighth consecutive day it’s been over 5%, a target for getting infections under control.

The county’s rate was 4.43% on 1,423 people tested — the first time in a week it’s been under 5%.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital has seen its seven-day positivity rate rise to 5% from 3.2% for the period ending Oct. 30.

There were 2,564 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the state Friday, including 48 at SMH — up from 37 Thursday — and 12 at Venice Regional Bayfront Health, which also reported seven employees in quarantine.


ICU availability in the county was down to 28.83% but the number mainly reflects non-COVID-19 patients, as SMH had just eight in its 62 ICU beds Friday.

Mortalities typically rise two to three weeks after hospitalizations go up. So far that hasn’t happened, although there were two deaths in the county on Thursday.

Since the pandemic began, Sarasota County has had 350 deaths from the ailment.

The state reported 53 deaths during the last 24 hours.

That number would remain relatively constant through Feb. 1 if the state were at universal mask-wearing — 95%, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

At its current estimated rate of mask use, however, the Institute projects deaths rising to 127 per day by then, and 180 per day if remaining COVID-19 precautions are eased.

The difference would be about 4,000 deaths, it projects — as many as 170,000 nationally.

People ages 15-24 now represent the age group that has had the most cases in the county — 1,555. Close behind are the 25-34 group, with 1,540, and 45-54, with 1,519.

It’s not clear whether the reopening of the schools is a factor in that. High school students, many of whom would fall into the 15-24 group, represent 58% of the 190 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in students in the Sarasota County School District since Aug. 31.

Currently, 12 staff and 37 students are in isolation following a positive test, up from six and 23, respectively, earlier in the week. An additional 44 staff and 487 students are in quarantine due to exposure.

In the last 48 hours 17 people have been isolated and 111 quarantined.

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