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15 Coronavirus Cases Confirmed at Santa Monica Public Safety Facility

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By Jorge Casuso

January 19, 2021 -- Since the start of the year, 15 staff members at Santa Monica's Public Safety Facility have tested positive for the coronavirus and gone into immediate isolation, City officials confirmed Tuesday.

Those who have come into close contact with the infected staff, including community members, have been notified and instructed to quarantine at home and test for COVID-19, officials said.

The City has also offered voluntary COVID-19 testing to all employees in the Public Safety Facility.

The affected staff members belong to three departments that operate within the facility adjacent to City Hall.

"This increase in cases is believed to reflect the increase in community spread and in a majority of cases transmission is not believed to be workplace related," said Constance Farrell, the spokesperson for the City.

The facility, which has continued to operate at full staffing levels, has been complying with LA County Department of Public Health (DPH) protocols, Farrell said.

Police are drawing on resources across the Department "to increase patrols while also minimizing cross-contact within the Department," she said.

"The City remains committed and fully staffed to provide essential services for the health and safety of all City staff and all in the Santa Monica community," Farrell said.

LA County Health officials also reported six cases at two homeless "encampments" in the city.

The individuals were tested by a County Health Services COVID testing team deployed by Santa Monica homeless service providers at least once a week, Farrell said.

"If a person tests positive and has nowhere to self-isolate, they are referred to the County’s quarantine/isolation referral center," she said.

County health officials also reported 28 cases among staff members at the Whole Foods store at 23rd Street and Wilshire Boulevard.

There have been a total of 142 confirmed cases at nine Whole Foods stores in the County, with the Santa Monica store having the most cases.

Bright Horizons Children's Center at the Water Garden, which offers daycare and preschool services, had four staff members and seven students test positive for the virus, according to County health data.

Santa Monica had 3,582 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday. Of those, 2,463 -- or 69 percent -- have taken place since the most recent surge began in early November.

To date, more than 348,000 vaccinations have been administered -- more than 271,000 first doses and more than 77,000 second doses, health officials said.

Of the vaccine currently in hand, the County has used 58 percent of the first doses and about 35 percent of the second doses.

A total of nearly 39,000 doses have been administered to staff and residents at 335 of the 340 skilled nursing facilities in the County.

On Tuesday, LA County residents 65 and older began receiving vaccines, health officials said.

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