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COVID Cases in Santa Monica Hit Two-Month Low, Death Count Rises

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By Jorge Casuso

September 8, 2021 -- Weekly coronavirus cases in Santa Monica dropped to their lowest level in two months, while three residents have died with the virus over the past two weeks, according to Los Angeles County Health data.

The three deaths -- the latest reported on Tuesday -- come after no new virus-related deaths were reported in Santa Monica over the previous four months.

It typically takes about two weeks to confirm a virus-related death.

Last week, there were 104 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Santa Monica residents, the lowest weekly tally since 52 cases were reported for the week ending July 7.

As of Tuesday, there were a total of 6,280 confirmed coronavirus cases and 186 virus-related deaths in the City of 93,000.

The decline in weekly cases in Santa Monica -- which hit a peak of 343 during the week ening July 25 -- reflects a countywide trend that has also seen deaths remain steady or rise, according to Health data.

"While we are seeing decreases in new cases and hospitalizations, COVID-19 deaths have not declined and transmission remains high," said County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

The delta variants now account for 99 percent of all sequenced strains countywide and can infect fully vaccinated people, who can pass the virus on to others, officials said.

"This variant is more efficiently transmitted between people, likely due to its faster replication, higher viral load, and greater affinity for lower respiratory tract cells compared with earlier COVID-19 strains," said County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

While the Delta variant may have peaked, the Mu variant -- which was first identified in Colombia in January -- has become "a variant of concern" in LA County.

As of Friday, County health officials had identified 167 Mu variants in specimens sequenced between June 19 and Augusts 21, with the majority of Mu specimens sequenced in July.

"The Mu variant is found to have key mutations linked to greater transmissibility and the potential to evade antibodies," health officials said.

"More studies are needed to determine whether Mu variant is more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to vaccine and treatments than other COVID-19 strains."

As of Tuesday, there have been a total of 1,423,620 cases and 25,512 virus-related deaths confirmed in the County of more than 10 million.

There are 1,433 patients with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, with 29 percent of them in the ICU, a decrease of 266 daily hospitalizations in one week, health officials said.

Testing results are available for nearly 8,300,000 residents with 16 percent testing positive, officials said. Tuesday's test positivity rate is 3.3 percent.

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