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No Significant Spike in Deaths, Serious Illness as Crackdown Looms

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

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Santa Monica College
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By Jorge Casuso

November 23, 2020 -- As Santa Monica and LA County prepare another crackdown to curb "alarming levels" of coronavirus cases, the number of deaths and seriously ill patients remains below previous spikes, according to an analysis of data by The Lookout.

The crackdown -- which goes into effect at 10 p.m. Wednesday -- is based on the number of new cases and hospitalizations, both of which are up across the county of more than 10 million.

The number of confirmed cases in LA County rose from 2,301 on Monday to 6,124 on Sunday, while the number of hospitalizations rose from 1,049 to 1,473.

Still, the average number of daily coronavirus-related deaths last week was 25, lower than the daily average of 29 since March 11, when the first death was reported.

Meanwhile the number of patients in the ICU has dropped -- from 571 on July 31 to 398 on Sunday, according to an analysis of County Health Department data by The Lookout.

In Santa Monica -- which nearly broke the weekly record for new cases with 127 last week -- the total number of cases reached 1,377 on Sunday.

Two new deaths were reported last week, bringing the total to 43. They are the first coronavirus-related deaths in the city of 93,000 since August 30.

Last week, County health officials -- following mandates from the State -- announced that dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars would be prohibited starting Wednesday at 10 p.m. Takeout will be allowed.

Non-essential businesses must shut down between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. except for takeout, and indoor businesses -- such as retail stores, offices and personal care services -- must operate at 25 percent maximum occupancy.

“County residents and business owners, including restaurant owners have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 8 months," said County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents Santa Monica.

"But we face infection rates that could overrun our hospitals and put every man, woman and child, not simply those with serious cases of COVID, at mortal risk."

The number of those hospitalized with the virus was still below the 2,220 hospitalized on July 31, two weeks after the County began re-shutting businesses to curb a spike that, if fact, resulted in fewer deaths and serious illness ("Santa Monica Sees Record Number of Weekly Coronavirus Cases, As County Re-Shutters Businesses," July 13, 2020).

The death rate countywide also has dropped since May, when City officials began lifting health restrictions after an economic shutdown led to sweeping budget cuts ("Santa Monica Lifts Ban on Dining Out, Getting a Haircut," May 29, 2020).

In the week ending May 31, of the 57,118 persons who had tested positive, 2,443 people died, or more than 4 percent.

That compares with 364,520 positive cases as of Saturday and 7,438 deaths -- or a rate of 2 percent.

Since late May, the positivity rate has hovered at between 9 and 10 percent, while the number of tests countywide has skyrocketed -- from about 663,000 on May 31 to more than 3,542,000 on Sunday.

County officials are preparing for another lockdown if the five-day average of cases is 4,500 or more or hospitalizations exceed 2,000 per day.

The Safer at Home Order -- which would be mandated for a minimum of three weeks -- "would offer additional restrictions while allowing essential and emergency workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes," County health officials said.

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