SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health reported 435 new COVID-19 hospitalizations Friday. That’s the largest single-day increase we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic.
Hospitals across Tampa Bay are seeing a similar trend. Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s COVID-19 census more than doubled in less than 10 days.
Last week, SMH reported a record 45 positive patients at the hospital. On July 9, hospital leaders say they were treating 93 coronavirus patients.
“We have seen an influx of patients and this is rapidly developing issue. Within a month, we have gone from single digit patients to nearly 100 patients in the hospital today,” said Dr. Manuel Gordillo. We probably we are not going to get out of this second wave for a few weeks, at least until there is less transmission in the community,” he continued.
Sarasota Vice-Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie tells 8 On Your Side she is ‘disgusted, but not surprised’ by the recent surge in hospitalizations. She says she gets frustrated seeing people doing the exact opposite of what CDC officials are recommending.
Dr. Kirk Voelker with SMH says hospitalization trends are growing at an exponential rate, not just locally, but statewide.
“It is very difficult to get hospitalization rates off the DOH website and you almost have to do it day by day, but if you look over the last four weeks, we have gone from .5 to one patient a day, one patient a day to two patients a day, now I think we’re up to four patients a day that we are admitting on the average. Those are real trends. That is irrefutable. So those that think this is a hoax, you are just wrong,” said Dr. Voelker.
Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch tells 8 On Your Side the surge in hospitalizations at SMH is very concerning. Throughout the pandemic, she’s remained in close contact with doctors at the hospital.
“I try to be in touch with them as much as possible and they are concerned. They are very concerned about the numbers and that they are rising,” said Mayor Ahearn-Koch. “What they are looking for is help from us, from the community, from the elected officials and from the management all over the county for us to please get the message out that we cannot do much, but at least we can wear masks,” she continued.
“The way I see it is that if you want to maintain your liberties and be able to go out and do the things that you want to do and not have the city shut down of the county shut down, just wear a mask, wash your hands, do the right thing,” said Dr. Voelker.
Sarasota city leaders tell 8 On Your Side they’ve been getting feedback about the citywide mask mandate. Some residents are calling for the ’18 and under’ exemption to change to age ‘6 and under’. The topic will be discussed at the next city commission meeting.
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