Sarasota schools nearly double COVID-19 cases in January

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In January, the Sarasota School District saw a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in schools.

Since the start of the "winter vacation" on December 18, the area has recorded 608 cases since the beginning of school in late August. After the students returned to China on January 4, the school district almost reached this level, with 568 new cases in just four weeks. 

Sarasota County

 In January, in the entire population, schools followed suit, just like the entire pandemic. 

Sheriff Brennan Asplen said on Friday that the area is still closely tracking the number of people, but the rise in cases does not mean that the area has the will or ability to close schools.  

"In our approach, wise and surgical operation is the best method," Asplen said, adding that even if the number of cases increases, the cases are still scattered throughout the county, rather than concentrated in hot spots.  

Local health officials said that after the holidays, people are becoming more and more susceptible to fatigue from masks and quarantine, and the peak tourist season is approaching. The arrival of the peak period is not surprising.

Steve Huard, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota, said: “I’m not necessarily surprised to see this number rise.” “There are many people in the community now. A lot of tourists. But we have not seen a large amount of transmission within the school."

Michael Drennon, project manager for the DOH disease intervention services in Sarasota, said health officials interviewed almost all students and staff who contracted the virus, most of whom had stories of some kind of holiday travel.

Drennon said: "We interviewed the vast majority of cases, many of which are related to travel." "Almost everyone has some type of travel or holiday party. This really drives the increase in our schools."

At the same time, schools that are still closed in other parts of the country are facing increasing pressure to reopen. Health officials said that the increase in schools coincided with the spread of communities, and the culprit was not the children who went to school in person. 

The Centers for Disease Control released a report this week that schools are not hot spots for the spread of the virus. 

The researchers wrote: "The researchers concluded that these data and observations that the infection rates between teachers and non-teachers are generally similar indicate that schools have nothing to do with the acceleration of community transmission."

Drennon said the rate of pediatric hospitalization is still very low. Since the Sarasota pandemic, there have been only 1,418 cases among children under the age of 14, and only 3,142 cases among those aged 15 and 24, and young children are much less likely to contract the virus. 

Although the total population of Manatee County has increased throughout January, the increase in schools has not been as dramatic as in Sarasota.

Since the staff returned on January 4 and the students returned on January 6, the manatee has reported 173 new cases at the school. A total of 419 cases were reported in the district from the reopening of the manatee at the school on August 17 until the winter vacation. 

It is not clear why the number of cases in Sarasota has increased so much compared to the manatee.

Delennon said there are too many variables that affect the transmission rate, including the number of tests and driving, which makes it difficult to compare the two counties as a snapshot.  

From the beginning of the school year, most students in these two districts return to campus, and 30% of them study remotely throughout the day. Sarasota (Sarasota) now has 83% of students studying in person, while manatee has 84%.

According to data provided by the region, in Sarasota, elementary school students return the most, 90% of whom go to school in person. 84% of middle school students and 77% of high school students also returned to school. 


Earlier this week, it may take several months for most residents to be vaccinated. 

Aspron said the school district insists on adopting a series of safety measures, including regular disinfection of classrooms, three-fold table guards, mandatory facial coverings, and extensive contact tracking. 

Asprun said: "It actually depends on the use of the vaccine." "At least there is some light at the end of the tunnel." 

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