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Nine Deaths Confirmed at Santa Monica Nursing Homes

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By Jorge Casuso

April 23, 2020 -- Nine people infected with the coronavirus have died in Santa Monica nursing homes, as the death toll in Los Angeles County reached an average of 44 per day, more than die of heart disease, health officials said Thursday.

Six of the confirmed deaths were at the Rehabilitation Center of Santa Monica and three at Beachwood Post Acute and Rehab, LA County health officials reported.

A total of 66 residents and staff members have tested positive in care facilities in Santa Monica, where five new cases were confirmed on Thursday, bringing the total number to 144.

It is not known how many of those who tested positive in the institutional settings were residents of Santa Monica and included in the city's tally.

To date, 21 patients and 10 staff members have tested positive at the Rehabilitation Center and 20 patients and 9 staff members at Beachwood.

Another four residents have tested positive at The Manor -- a board and care facility for the mentally ill -- and two at the Ocean Pointe Healthcare Center.

They were among the 1,081 new cases confirmed by the County Public Health Department on Thursday, bringing the total to 17,508 cases, as testing capacity continues to increase.

Health officials reported 68 deaths on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 797 in the County of 10 million.

Of those who died, 51 had underlying health conditions and 51 were over the age of 65, County officials said.

Nearly 90 percent of those who have died in LA County had underlying health conditions and some 40 percent were in nursing homes, health officials said.

“COVID-19 is rapidly becoming one of the leading causes of death among LA County residents," said County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

On average, 44 people are dying each day from COVID-19, Ferrer said.

"This is significantly higher than the five people who die each day from the flu and 31 people who die from coronary heart disease," she said.

A total of 289 people died of influenza in LA County during the 2017-18 flu season, one of the deadliest in decades, and more than 80,000 died nationwide.

Coronavirus deaths include all those who had the virus when they died, according to the standard being used by health officials.

The increase in confirmed cases coincides with a rapid increase in testing -- from fewer than 30,000 on April 10 to nearly 99,000 on Thursday.

The virus is likely much more widespread than health officials had thought, with the total number of infected LA County residents likely 28 to 55 times higher than number of cases confirmed by health officials.

That estimate -- based on a groundbreaking anti-body test -- would place the number of infected people in Santa Monica at between nearly 4,000 and 8,000 ("Coronavirus Fatality Rate 'Much Lower' Than Previously Thought, LA County Health Officials Say," April 20, 2020).

To date, 4,053 people who tested positive for COVID-19 -- 24 percent of positive cases -- have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

There were 1,791 coronavirus patients being treated at hospitals in L.A. County on Wednesday, Ferrer said.

Thirty percent were in intensive care and 19 percent were on ventilators, Ferrer said.

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