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Santa Monica Sees Near Record Number of Weekly COVID Cases

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By Jorge Casuso

July 29, 2021 -- Santa Monica recorded its third highest number of weekly coronavirus cases last week despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in Los Angeles County, according to County Health data.

The 343 confirmed cases reported last week -- which are due to the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant -- fell just short of the record 365 cases reported Christmas week and the 357 cases reported during the first week of January.

According to County Health Director Barbara Ferrer, the Delta variant "replicates faster and more efficiently in respiratory tract cells."

That means "infected people may now spread up to 1,000 times more virus particles with every cough, sneeze, or shout than they did a year ago.

"They may also spread the virus efficiently 2 days earlier in their illness course than did people who were infected a year ago."

But unlike the Holiday surge -- which claimed a record 16 virus-related deaths in Santa Monica in one week -- the local number of deaths has remained at 183 since May 2, one month before the variant began spreading.

To date, a total of 5,377 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Santa Monica, which has a population of some 93,000 residents, according to County data.

As of Sunday, 65,239 of the city's 81,541 residents over the age of 18 -- or 80 percent -- had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Santa Monica ranked second among LA County cities with populations of more than 50,000 in the percentage of residents vaccinated, behind only Monterey Park.

Although the vaccinated account for a far smaller percentage of those who are hospitalized or die with the virus, the COVID vaccines do not provide full protection.

LA County Health officials report that about one in four new COVID-19 cases in the County of some 10 million are currently reported among those who are fully vaccinated.

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that an internal slide presentation from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that "vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated.

"Vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant," the Post wrote.

The data and studies cited in the presentation prompted the CDC to recommend this week that those vaccinated, as well as those who are not vaccinated, wear masks indoors in public settings.

The policy has been in place in LA County -- including in Santa Monica -- since August 16 ("Face Masks Must Be Worn Indoors in Santa Monica Again," July 15, 2021).

This week, the City of Santa Monica announced it is "moving towards requiring that its municipal workforce receive the COVID-19 vaccine once approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."

Currently, 59 percent of the City workforce has reported they have been vaccinated, far below the 80 percent of those 16 and older citywide.

"The City will be meeting with the labor organizations that represent the City’s diverse workforce to discuss the impacts of a mandatory vaccination policy," officials said in a statement.

Santa Monica is following the lead of other cities -- including New York, San Francisco and Pasadena -- as well as the State of California and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, officials said.

"The move comes as Los Angeles County experiences a steep surge in cases and as other government organizations roll out similar policies," City officials said.

County Health officials reported Thursday that the rate of increase in weekly cases is slowing.

The current daily average case rate is 15.7 cases per 100,000 people, an increase of 21.7 percent from last week’s rate of 12.9 cases per 100,000 people.

"This is a significantly smaller rate of increase than seen last week, where cases increased over 80 percent from the prior week," officials said.

If the first three days of this week are an indication. the number of weekly cases in Santa Monica is dropping dramatically.

There were a total of 54 new reported cases between Monday and Wednesday, compared to the 343 last week, according to County Health data.

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