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The downward trend in Florida COVID cases is reflected in hospital status updates

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Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which had not been allowing visitations, said it will now allow most patients to have two visitors. It also resumed nonemergency surgeries this week.

The number of patients in Florida hospitals with COVID-19 has dropped below 6,000, according to data posted Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The trend is reflected in the latest status updates from some of the state’s largest hospitals.

After a spike in cases and hospitalizations over the summer because of the delta variant, Florida has seen steady decreases in hospitalizations in September.

The HHS website on Thursday showed that 5,797 Florida inpatients had COVID, down from 6,258 on Wednesday. On Sept. 1, Florida had 15,177 patients hospitalized with COVID.

Also, Florida hospitals were using 1,529 intensive-care unit beds for COVID-19 patients, down from 1,618 on Wednesday. Overall, about 80 percent of Florida inpatient beds and 82.4 percent of ICU beds were being used Thursday.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which had not been allowing visitations, said it will allow most patients to have two visitors at a time beginning Friday. It also resumed nonemergency surgeries this week.

“Now that the transmission rate of the virus has declined in our region, we felt we could gradually increase the number of visitors and surgeries, while keeping universal masking and pandemic protocols in place to protect our patients and staff,” Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Sarasota Campus president Lorrie Liang said.

On Thursday, Sarasota Memorial reported that 97 of its 715 patients were being treated for COVID, 14 less than the previous day. There were 53 COVID patients in the ICU.

In Orlando, AdventHealth reported COVID-related hospitalizations declined to 530 at its hospitals across seven counties in Central Florida. Hospital capacity remain high.

The rate of positive COVID tests at its Centra Care urgent care locations in the region dropped below 10 percent for the first time since the spring.

Dr. Tim Hendrix, senior medical director for AdventHealth Centra Care, said he’s “encouraged by what we are seeing throughout Florida and in Central Florida.”

But he said it’s important to continue to watch the number cases for children, which account for one in five positive tests.

Jackson Health System in Miami also reported declines in COVID patients in recent days. On Thursday, the network report 157 patients tested positive. That’s down from 164 on Wednesday and 167 on Tuesday. More than 80 percent were unvaccinated. Of those vaccinated, most are immunocompromised transplant patients.

Tampa General Hospital reported it has bed availability, with 72 COVID admissions on Thursday, 31 in the ICU.

Information from News Service of Florida ,WMFE’s Danielle Prieur and Health News Florida's Rick Mayer was used in this report.