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Santa Monica Sees Record Number of Weekly Coronavirus Cases, As County Re-Shutters Businesses

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By Jorge Casuso

July 13, 2020 -- A record 65 coronravirius cases were confirmed in Santa Monica last week, as Los Angeles County began re-shutting businesses in an effort to curb a recent spike that has, in fact, resulted in fewer deaths and serious illness, according to an analysis of County data.

Santa Monica's weekly tally surpassed the previous record of 52 cases confirmed during the first week of June, bringing the total number of cases among residents to 508, according to County health data.

Two new deaths confirmed last week brought the total number of Santa Monica residents who have died with the coronavirus to 33, up from 31 deaths the previous week.

But while the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the County skyrocketed over the past month -- from 73,791 weekly cases in mid-June to 136,129 on Sunday -- the number of monthly deaths has dropped.

Over the past month, the County has added 896 deaths, bringing the total to 3,822 on Sunday.

That's down from 1,105 deaths confirmed the previous month and 1,366 during the first month of the virus, according to an analysis of County records by The Lookout.

And while the number of hospitalizations have spiked over the past month -- from between 1,350 and 1,450 daily, to 2,056 on Sunday -- the number of patients in ICU and on ventilators has dropped.

On Sunday, 28 percent of those hospitalized were in ICU, down from 31 percent a month ago, and 20 percent were on ventilators, down from 24 percent.

On Monday, County officials followed Governor Gavin Newsom's lead and ordered a list of non-essential businesses that had opened to close again -- including gyms and fitness centers, places of worship, hair salons and barbershops and malls.

Bars already have been re-shuttered and indoor dining at restaurants prohibited. Earlier this month Santa Monica began fining those who fail to wear a face mask or maintain social distancing ("Santa Monica Issues Face-Covering Order," July 2, 2020).

“We continue to see increased number of new cases and hospitalizations," said County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

"To slow the spread and prevent more hospitalizations and deaths, everyone should limit their time with others not in your household."

There were 13 new deaths confirmed on Sunday; all 13 were over the age of 65 and nine had underlying health conditions.

Of the persons who have died since the pandemic began in mid-March, 93 percent had underlying health conditions, officials said.

These include immune disorders, diabetes, obesity and chronic conditions that affect the lungs, heart and kidneys, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The spike in cases is in large part due to increased testing, with results available for more than 1,338,000 individuals, up from about 825,000 a month ago.

Of those who have been tested 9 percent were positive, up from 8 percent a month ago.

The most significant increase in the percentage of cases has taken place among residents between the ages of 18 and 40, who now account for about 25 percent of the hospitalizations, up from a little more than 10 percent in April, according to Health officials.

The spread of the disease among a younger population in part explains why deaths have remained relatively stable nationwide as the number of cases rise.

Experts also attribute the trend to the reopening of businesses, large demonstrations nationwide, increased testing and a better understanding of how to treat those infected with the virus.

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