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Local COVID Cases Continue Dropping

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By Jorge Casuso

August 16, 2022 -- Coronavirus cases continued to drop in Santa Monica, although a highly contagious variant has quickly spread in local nursing homes and among Big Blue Bus employees, according to the latest data from LA County Health officials.

There were 203 COVID cases confirmed in the city last week, down from an average of 347 weekly cases over the previous four weeks.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the city of some 93,000 to 23,222 since the first case was reported 29 months ago.

There were two virus-related deaths reported last week, bringing the total to 257. It typically takes about two weeks to report a death, according to County Health officials.

In addition to the data reported for the city, there was a total of 147 infections reported at seven Santa Monica nursing homes and rehab centers -- 52 among staff and 95 among residents. One resident has died.

The biggest outbreak was at Beachwood Post Acute and Rehab, where 17 staff members and 36 residents contracted the virus and one resident died, according to County data.

There were also 28 positive cases among Big Blue Bus staff. The data does not indicate how many of the cases reported by location involve Santa Monica residents.

While the predominant BA.5 variant is highly contagious, it is far less fatal than previous variants, according to health experts.

To help stem the spread, County Health officials encourage at-home testing.

“During this time of elevated community transmission, testing when appropriate can help slow the spread by identifying those individuals who are infected in a timely way so they can limit exposing others to the virus," said County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

To date, 18,816,372 at-home OTC tests have been distributed county-wide by Public Health, the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "with many test kits distributed by schools and community partners in communities hard hit by the pandemic," officials said.

Last week, Public Health distributed 313,780 test kits, including 216,000 tests to skilled nursing facilities, 34,000 to community clinics and pharmacies, 19,000 to LA County libraries, 12,600 to early childhood education locations and 10,000 to community-based organizations.

This week, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials announced they are working on a plan to provide free weekly at-home testing kits to all students and staff ("School District Opts for Weekly COVID Testing at Home," August 15, 2022).

While the County and State only require testing when someone has symptoms, the School District expects the tests be used weekly.

To date, Public Health has reported a total of 3,363,706 positive cases of COVID-19 across the County of more than 10 million and 32,961 virus-related deaths.

There are 1,022 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, down from 1,151 last Tuesday.

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