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Local COVID Cases Rise, No New Deaths Reported

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By Jorge Casuso

April 18, 2022 -- For the first time this year, Santa Monica recorded no weekly COVID-related deaths, although case numbers continued to rise last week, according to County data.

There were 159 coronavirus cases confirmed in the city last week, up from an average of 111 weekly cases over the past month.

That brings the total number of cases in the beach city of 93,000 to 17,257 as of Sunday, according to County data.

Virus-related deaths remained at 240, marking the first time no weekly deaths were reported since the week before Christmas. Deaths typically take two weeks to report.

The zero reported deaths come after Santa Monica averaged 3.5 weekly virus-related deaths over the past two and a half months, the highest level in a year.

Community Meeting Discussion with Sheriff Alex Villanueva, April 21, 2022. Santa Monica

Santa Monica has among the highest vaccination rates in the County, with 92.3 percent of the population over the age of 5 having received at least one shot as of Monday, compared with 83.3 percent for the County.

The continued rise in local cases reflects the spread of the BA.2 subvariant, which accounted for 67 percent of sequenced specimens in the County for the week ending March 26, Health officials said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control(CDC), the highly infectious subvariant is responsible for 86 percent of cases nationwide. It accounts for 92 percent of global cases.

But while reports indicate the BA.2 subvariant is substantially more transmissible than BA.1 and better able to evade vaccines, it is not considered severe, a finding supported by County data.

"With BA.2 now the predominant subvariant, over the past week, LA County continued to see the same pattern as last week, with cases increasing, and hospitalizations and deaths remaining stable," Health officials said.

There are 221 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized in LA County, which has 19,500 licensed hospital beds, according to health data. There were 98 virus-related deaths last week.

Last week, Health officials updated the County's quarantine requirements for "asymptomatic close contacts who are not living or working in a high-risk setting."

Regardless of vaccination status or recent history with a prior infection, they are not required to quarantine, "provided they wear a highly protective mask when indoors around others, for a total of 10 days after the last contact with a person infected with COVID-19."

They also must test at least within three to five days after their last exposure to determine their infection status, officials said.

"If they test positive, they must follow Public Health’s isolation requirements."

In addition, "asymptomatic close contacts" must monitor themselves for 10 days following their exposure, and "if symptoms develop, they must test and stay home away from others and follow Public Health isolation requirements if they test positive."

Residents living in high-risk settings -- which include healthcare facilities, shelters, correctional facilities and adult care facilities -- "will need to continue to follow, at minimum, the existing quarantine orders," officials said.

Last week's Health order also revised the definition of "close contact" to match the State’s guidance.

Under the revised definition, a “close contact” is defined as "someone sharing the same indoor airspace, e.g., home, clinic waiting room, airplane, etc., for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes) during an infected person’s (laboratory-confirmed or clinical diagnosis) infectious period."

To date, a total of 2,853,706 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the County of more than 10 million. A total of 31,872 have died with the virus.

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