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Coronavirus Cases Drop in Santa Monica as County Hospitalizations Decrease

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By Jorge Casuso

September 14, 2021 -- The number of weekly COVID cases in Santa Monica dropped below 100 for the first time in two months as hospitalizations across Los Angeles County also continued to fall, according to County Health data.

There were 80 new COVID-19 cases reported in Santa Monica last week and no new virus-related deaths. That was a marked drop from 113 cases the previous week and a peak of 343 cases during the week ending July 25.

The surge -- which followed a weekly average of 9 cases in June -- was due to the rapid spread of the more contagious, but far less deadly, delta variant.

LA County Health officials on Tuesday reported a steady decrease in daily hospitalizations, which dropped to 1,218, a decrease of 262 patients over the past week and 469 over the past two weeks.

That compares with 8,023 patients hospitalized on January 6, when cases were surging to a record high. Of those, 1,605 were in the ICU, compared to 416 patients last Thursday, the last time County Health officials released ICU numbers.

"As of August 28, unvaccinated adults 50 and over were more than 17 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated adults over 50," County Health officials said.

"Hospitalizations in younger unvaccinated adults between 18 to 49 years old are 23 times higher than hospitalization rates for vaccinated residents 18 to 49 years old."

While the number of hospitalizations has been used by Health officials as an indication of the risks posed by the coronavirus, a new study is calling the metric into question.

In an extensive study awaiting peer review, researchers from Harvard Medical School, Tufts Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System "suggests that almost half of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have mild or asymptomatic cases," according to a report in The Atlantic.

The study -- which analyzed records for nearly 50,000 COVID admissions at VA hospitals -- "suggests that roughly half of all the hospitalized patients showing up on COVID-data dashboards in 2021 may have been admitted for another reason entirely, or had only a mild presentation of disease."

The percentage of vaccinated patients who had mild or asymptomatic disease was 57 percent, compared to 45 percent of those who were not vaccinated, according to the study.

While the federal government requires all hospitals to report every patient who tests positive for COVID, many patients "have been admitted for further observation on account of their comorbidities, or because they reported feeling short of breath," the Atlantic article noted.

Others "are in the hospital for something unrelated to COVID, and discovered that they were infected only because they were tested upon admission."

As of Sunday, there have been a total of 6,341 coronaviris cases confirmed in Santa Monica and 186 virus-related deaths in the city of some 93,000.

Three of the deaths were reported over the past three weeks after no new COVID-related deaths were reported over the previous four months.

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

As of Sunday there were 1,433,465 confirmed cases of COVID and 25,688 deaths in the county of more than 10 million.

Testing results were available for more than 8,370,000 individuals with 16 percent testing positive. The current test positivity rate is 1.5 percent, down from 2 percent last week.

On Monday, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District began its third week of COVID testing of students and staff.

"We currently have 95 percent of students whose parents have provided consent for testing," District officials said.

"The remaining 5 percent of families have the option of submitting a weekly PCR test from their own provider in lieu of the free District service or enrolling into independent study."

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