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Santa Monica Shatters Weekly COVID Case Record

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By Jorge Casuso

December 27, 2021 -- There were 1,085 coronavirus cases confirmed in Santa Monica last week -- triple the previous high recorded nearly one year ago -- and one new virus-related death, according to Los Angeles County Public Health data.

The sudden spike -- up from a near record 363 cases the previous week -- comes amid a swelling tide of the vastly contagious, but far milder, Omicron variant, which infects both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Last week's record number of local cases shattered the previous record 365 cases confirmed during Christmas week last year.

But while 16 Santa Monica residents died with the virus during that holiday surge, there was one death reported last week unrelated to the new variant.

In fact, only one coronavirus death in the U.S. has been attributed to Omicron, which is prompting a resurgence of masking and vaccine mandates and the cancellation of flights and major events, including the New Year's celebration in Times Square.

Unlike the previous surge a year ago, the current wave of infections is sweeping across a highly vaccinated nation. In Santa Monica, the record number of cases were recorded despite an 88 percent vaccination rate.

In fact, many of those who have contracted the Omicron variant -- which is already surpassing the daily case rate of the far more deadly Delta variant -- are fully vaccinated.

This has prompted State and County health officials to require booster shots among healthcare workers by February 1.

“Across multiple healthcare settings, our health care personnel have given their all and been fully vaccinated at high levels for many months," said County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

"However, the threat of rising cases and concerning hospital staffing shortages require us to act quickly to ensure that in the face of the high transmissible Omicron variant, our essential workforce has an important added layer of protection.”

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID 19 in LA County has risen 20 percent over the past week from 742 to 904, although County health data does not indicate how many were in the ICU.

That compares with 6,914 people hospitalized with the virus during Christmas week last year.

Unlike previous variants of the coronavirus, those infected with Omicron usually display symptoms similar to those of the common cold or display no symptoms.

As a result, some of those hospitalized are unaware they were infected until they tested positive after being admitted for other health reasons.

To date Public Health officials have identified a total of 1,623,442 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County, and 27,555 virus-related deaths.

Testing results are available for more than 9,953,000 individuals, with 15 percent testing positive.

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