Sarasota Memorial Hospital officials are urging people across the Suncoast to take extra precautions to protect themselves and others during this new wave of the pandemic and to prepare ahead so they understand what steps to take to reduce their risks if they do become infected.
About 200 people per day are testing positive for COVID in Sarasota, compared to about 30 per day six weeks ago, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story, said Manuel Gordillo, MD, medical director of Sarasota Memorial Infection Prevention & Control. More advanced surveillance and prevalence studies in New York show that for every one positive case reported, there can be up to 30 cases not counted, he said, primarily because people are forgoing testing or using at-home tests and not reporting the results to the state or their doctor.
“The good news is that our population has a lot more immunity than in previous waves of this pandemic, from vaccination, boosters and prior infections, and because of that, we are seeing a slower rise in hospitalizations,” he said. “But cases are rising, so we need to take precautions and be prepared.”
Currently, there are 67 COVID patients hospitalized in Sarasota Memorial’s Sarasota and Venice hospitals, where the average number of patients admitted with COVID has doubled from about 6 per day to 12 per day in the past week. Fortunately, approximately 90% of admitted patients nationally, and at SMH, are treated successfully and discharged without developing severe disease that requires intensive care.
Typically, a rise in hospitalizations follow 3 weeks after the rise in infections. With the community rating for COVID infections already at the highest level – Orange – Dr. Gordillo is urging people to wear masks when indoors and outdoors in crowded spaces, in addition to all other precautions recommended to reduce transmission (washing your hands frequently, maintaining physical distance in groups and meetings and getting vaccinated or boosted if eligible). For those at highest risk of developing severe disease, primarily immunocompromised individuals, Dr. Gordillo recommends they ask their doctor if they are eligible for the preventive therapy Evusheld, a long-acting monoclonal antibody that can provide up to 6 months of added protection against developing severe disease if they contract the virus.
And just like we do for hurricane season, Dr. Gordillo recommends all residents prepare ahead and understand the steps they should take if they develop any symptoms. Several anti-viral therapies are now available at local pharmacies to help prevent severe illness and hospitalizations in people who develop mild symptoms. To be effective, however, you must be tested and start treatment within 5 days of your first symptoms.
Learn more at: www.smh.com/treatcovid.
For the latest video update from Dr. Gordillo, please click here.