The latest data released by Florida’s Department of Health shows more than 15,000 more people tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
Positivity rates show the worst spread is happening in inland counties, where vaccination rates remain low.
While populations remain much lower in the Heartland counties, it’s striking the four counties with less than half the population vaccinated also saw more than one in five individuals tested positive for the coronavirus.
In Glades County, the positivity rate reached 32.6%, compared to the statewide rate of 19.3%. Only 44.5% of residents have been vaccinated in the county. Meanwhile in Hardee County, where just 37% have had the jab, health officials reported a 25.7% positivity rate for residents.
Epidemiologists generally consider the spread of a virus out of control when the positive rate exceeds 10%.
Four counties — DeSoto, Glades, Hardee and Hendry — cumulatively reported just 699 cases of the 14,945 new cases this week in the 10-county region. But within those four small counties, 14.23% of all residents have at some point in the pandemic contracted COVID-19. About 4.4% of those cases were recorded in the last week.
More populous counties suffered greater case loads in general. In Lee County, Southwest Florida’s most populous, 5,603 new cases were reported just this week.
The lowest spread for the virus was in Sarasota County, which still saw a positivity rate of 14.9%. Notably, the county also has the highest vaccination rate with 66.23% of county residents who had at least their first shot. Comparatively, only 56.03% of Lee residents have been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, local hospitals are reporting significant problems with capacity in the region. At Lee Health, there are now 498 inpatients with COVID-19, 86 of whom were admitted Thursday. Of those, 81 are being treated in the ICU, with 46% of those on ventilators.
At Sarasota Memorial Health Care, 209 of the 783 patients at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. That includes 47 of the 75 ICU patients. Hospital officials note 90% of those testing positive have not had the vaccine.
Similarly, 86% of COVID-19 patients at NCH in Naples have not had the vaccine. There are 170 hospitalized in that system, with 42 patients in the ICU and another 23 on ventilators. The youngest patient being treated there is 15 years old, the oldest 98.
Lee Health COVID-19 Hospitalizations
It is important to understand that hospital capacity fluctuates day by day and even hour by hour.
Due to the drastic increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, we are working to streamline an automated process to gather data. pic.twitter.com/AVGburXluN
— Lee Health (@Lee_Health) August 13, 2021