Sarasota Memorial Hospital pharmacist Ed McLean pushes in batches of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine after it arrived to the hospital on Dec. 22.

SARASOTA — Sarasota Memorial Hospital is stepping up to meet some of the need for COVID-19 vaccinations of people 65 and older with a community immunization clinic Saturday and Sunday.

But the appointments are full and no walk-ins will be accepted.

A second clinic is planned to deliver the required second dose for weekend vaccine recipients, but the hospital will run out of vaccine next week, SMH CEO David Verinder said.

And as of Friday, the health department had no information about any delivery of vaccine for next week, Public Information Officer Steve Huard said.

The department was expecting to use up the last of the 4,900 doses it had received vaccinating health care workers on Friday, he said.

It’s expecting to have clinics next week but can’t schedule them until it knows when vaccine will be coming, and how much, he said.

The department is still urging the public to be patient, and to check its website,, for updates.

Online appointment availability will open at 3:30 p.m. on the day prior to a clinic, Huard said.

He said he hasn’t been involved in any conversations regarding creating a lottery system, as Manatee County has implemented. The department is exploring other options to improve delivery, though, he said.

They include establishing a drive-thru location, probably in mid-county, to get immunization out of the department building as soon as possible, he said.

Separate drive-thru sites are planned for the delivery of second doses, he added. People receiving their second shot won’t need to go through the appointment process.

The department hopes to have an appointment call system set up as soon as next week, Huard said. The state is also working on a system, and the department wants to pick the best one rather than change to one, then the other, he said.

Huard said the department hasn’t had any problem with people trying to get a shot using an appointment made for another person.

He did reiterate a warning about fake appointment-setting websites that charge a fee, however.

“We will never ask for money for a shot,” he said.

By the numbers

The 19,211 new cases the state reported Friday weren’t a record, but it was the third-highest total of the pandemic, only behind the 19,432 cases reported on Thursday and the 21,021 cases reported on Dec. 31.

More than 15,000 cases have been reported on six of the last nine days.

At 11.46%, the positivity rate was under 12% for the second consecutive day after four straight days above it. But it’s been in double digits for nine straight days.

The state reported 184 deaths Friday.

Sarasota County reported 241 new cases Friday, the second day the number declined after hitting a peak of 399 on Jan. 5. Twenty-five people in the county have died since then.

SMH reported 93 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, with 13 of them in the ICU. Its seven-day positivity rate was 10.3%. Three patients had died since Thursday’s report.

Venice Regional Bayfront Health had 22 patients, with one death since Tuesday.

Since the virus was found in Sarasota County in early March 2020, a total of 539 people have died due to the ailment in the county.

Statewide, 7,415 people were hospitalized and ICU bed availability was 16.18%. In the county, 147 people were hospitalized, with 28.57% ICU bed availability.

The Sarasota County School District reported 37 staff and 140 students in isolation Friday, with 33 staff and 311 students in quarantine.

In the previous 48 hours, 45 people were told to isolate and 111 to quarantine.


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