Sarasota County sees rise in COVID cases, health officials urging more residents to get vaccinated

COVID cases on the rise on the Suncoast.
COVID cases on the rise on the Suncoast.(WWSB)
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 9:23 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Sarasota County health officials are urging people who haven’t gotten the vaccine to get it as soon as possible. COVID cases in the county are on the rise.

“So as we look at our numbers, about 95% of the new cases have not had the vaccine,” said Michael Drennon, with Disease Intervention Services for the Sarasota County Health Department. “So I think what that really tells us, is that the vaccine works in preventing illness.”

Sarasota Memorial Hospital says they’ve seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the last few weeks.

“In about three weeks, we’ve gone from about three patients in the hospital to the current upper 30s,” said Dr. Manuel Gordilla, a medical director with Sarasota Memorial Hospital. “Initially, we had one or two patients in the ICU, now we’re up to seven.”

People still have mixed feelings about the vaccine. One Sarasota resident who was vaccinated says it should still be an individual’s choice.

“I believe it’s a personal choice, if you want to get it, you get it,” said Jon Baugh. “If you don’t, don’t, it’s as simple as that. I don’t want any government interference on masks or the vaccine.”

Sarasota County health officials say only about 60% of residents in the county have been vaccinated. 65 or older have done much better -- 90% in that age group have had the vaccine. As in the case of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota, his positive COVID-19 test result shows that there are times where the vaccine is not 100% effective. Experts say the vaccine even helps in the fight against new variants.

“A little surprised that we’re starting to see an increase, but as the disease changes we have new variants, it’s not a surprise from that standpoint,” said Drennon.

Vaccines are available at the local health departments and also at many local pharmacies.

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