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Santa Monica Sees Weekly Spike in COVID Cases

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By Jorge Casuso

December 14, 2021 -- Weekly coronavirus cases in Santa Monica jumped to the highest level in nearly four months, despite strict face mask mandates and a high vaccination rate.

There were 119 COVID cases confirmed last week, the most since 192 cases were reported in the week ending August 22, according to data from Los Angeles County Public Health.

That weekly jump comes after 79 cases were confirmed the week before. There were no virus-related deaths reported last week, after one resident with COVID died the previous week.

As of Sunday, 7,295 COVID cases and 196 virus-related deaths had been reported in the City of some 93,000 residents.

Santa Monica has one of the highest vaccination rates in the County, with 89.2 percent of residents over 12 years old having received at least one shot.

It also has followed the County's health orders and imposed face masking mandates in indoor public spaces for both those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Last month, the City began requiring proof of vaccination and photo ID for patrons and employees of indoor bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs and lounges.

The contagious, but less deadly, Delta variant continues to account for nearly all the COVID cases reported in the County.

So far, there have been 15 cases of the newly detected Omicron variant reported in the County, with eight of those cases confirmed Tuesday.

Of the cases reported, 12 were among fully vaccinated persons. All had mild symptoms and none required hospitalization.

"Preliminary data indicates that the Omicron variant is highly infectious and that being fully vaccinated might not provide adequate protection against infection," LA County Public Health officials said Tuesday.

According to a new study by MIT, Harvard and the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, those who received two doses of the three available vaccines showed no detectable neutralization of omicron in their blood.

While boosters have been found to help fend off the infection, it is not known how long that protection will last, experts said.

They warned that breakthrough infections could continue, since boosters are less able to neutralize omicron than delta.

Although cases have been mild and only one patient with omicron has died in the U.S., the variant is spreading swiftly and causing widespread alarm.

Lab work with a synthesized omicron variant at the Ragon Institute found the new variant is almost four times more infectious than the original strain and twice as infectious as Delta.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Omicron now accounts for 2.9 percent of all coronavirus cases, with the varient detected in 30 states.

On Monday, Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first discovered Omicron, tried to quell the wave of panic sweeping some countries.

In an article published by the Daily Mail, Coetzee said “Britain is overreacting” to Omicron by imposing more restrictions.

"The UK Government's handling of what Boris Johnson warned will be a 'tidal wave' of Omicron infections verges on hysteria," Coetzee wrote.

“Yet you only have to look at the picture in South Africa, where the world’s first known cases of Omicron were spotted, to realize this reaction is out of all proportion to the risks posed by this variant,”

According to County Health officials, there have been 1,549,296 COVID-19 cases detected in LA County and 27,352 virus-related deaths.

On Tuesday, 718 patients who were hospitalized tested positive for COVID-19, officials said. They did not provide information on how many were in the ICU.

Of the more than 9,615,000 individuals tested countywide, 15 percent have tested positive.

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