As the number of positive tests continues to rise locally, Sarasota Memorial Hospital announced it is once again restricting visitors.
The Florida Department of Health reported 106 new identified COVID-19 cases in Sarasota County today, the largest one-day increase on record.
Today’s update from the state also added 1,540 tests, the third-highest number to date for Sarasota. From laboratory testing conducted June 25, the state reported 105 positives and 1,803 negatives, a positivity rate of 5.5%.
A total of 1,245 individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus from 33,817 tests in Sarasota County.
In a video today, Sarasota Memorial Hospital President and CEO David Verinder said he believed the rising volume and rate of positive tests should be a cause for concern for the community. Verinder said the hospital saw positive trends in May, but more recently, there has been an uptick in COVID-19 patients. Verinder said the hospital had 34 coronavirus patients currently, 10 of whom are in the Intensive Care Unit.
“Those numbers in and of themselves aren’t scary, but what's scary is the fact they've gone up so quickly,” Verinder said.
SMH announced Thursday it is no longer allowing visitors at the facility except in special circumstances. The policy, which goes into effect 6 p.m. today, makes the following exceptions for visitors:
- Patients in “certain extraordinary circumstances,” including end-of-life care;
- Patients in the Emergency Care Center, who may have one support person wait in the hospital lobby;
- Patients in the Labor & Delivery and Mother-Baby units, who are allowed one support person;
- Pediatrics patients, who are allowed one support person;
- Patients in surgical, procedural and testing areas, who are allowed one support person;
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients, who are allowed two designated visitors, only one of whom may visit per day.
Any visitors must complete the hospital's screening process, which includes a questionnaire and temperature check. Masks are required for all visitors.
Verinder emphasized it is still safe for individuals who need to come to the hospital to visit the facility.
On Monday, the City Commission will meet to consider adopting an ordinance that requires the use of masks indoors and outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained. The city announced yesterday it plans to give away up to 50,000 masks to the public in the next week.
To limit the spread of the virus, Verinder encouraged members of the public to adhere to health advisories, including maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.
“I know they’re uncomfortable,” Verinder said. “I know it’s hot outside. I know it’s something that we’re not all excited about. But, you know — just wear a mask.”