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COVID-19 cases on the rise in Sarasota, Manatee and other Florida counties

New numbers expected Friday are set to show a dramatic uptick.

SARASOTA, Fla. — A new spike in COVID-19 cases is sending more Floridians to the hospital for treatment, including in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

 According to the Florida Department of Health, on average more than 740 Floridians are getting admitted to the hospital daily. That number accounts for a nearly 55-percent increase from the week prior. 

Major hospitals in our area say they're seeing more people coming in with coronavirus. COVID-19 cases in Sarasota and Manatee counties alone have tripled from earlier this month and it's causing health officials to urge people to get vaccinated. 

Just a few weeks ago, Sarasota Memorial Hospital had no one with COVID-19 in the ICU, however, there are now six people, with several more hospitalized. 

RELATED: AHCA: 42% of Florida hospital workers weren't vaccinated, as of June 4

Hospital officials said the majority of recent COVID-19 hospitalizations they've seen are among those unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. 

"Going back a month maybe we had three patients in the hospital, so then all of a sudden we start seeing two more, and then two more and then it rapidly escalates," said Dr. Manuel Gordillo.

Gordillo is the Medical Director of Infection, Prevention and Control at SMH. He said the delta variant is setting the clock back on progress made. Over the past month, SMH went from 3 hospitalizations to 54.

"This, basically, delta variant is twice as much transmissible as the one that we had during the last big spike," Gordillo said. 

According to the Florida Department of Health, during the week of July 9-15, Sarasota County saw 504 new cases while Manatee County saw 657 new cases.

The week before, there were only around 140 new cases for both counties. Experts say the infections have been driven by more socializing, people not wearing masks in crowded settings and vaccine hesitancy.

"If it gets introduced into a population, we know it's going to find targets and the targets are the unvaccinated," Gordillo said.

Health officials expect the next set of updated COVID-19 data published on Friday to show more of this upward trend and are encouraging people to get vaccinated in order to avoid severe illness.

So far, three states, including Florida, account for nearly half of all the new COVID cases in the nation. Texas and Missouri are the other states which have the more contagious delta variant driving cases upward.

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