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COVID Cases Drop to Lowest Level in Over 4 Months

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By Jorge Casuso

August 22, 2022 -- With the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variants slowly ebbing, Santa Monica recorded the lowest number of coronavirus cases in four-and-a-half months.

The 174 cases of COVID-19 confirmed last week were the fewest since 159 weekly cases were reported on April 17 and marked the first time in eight weeks the number dipped below 200 cases.

There have been a total of 23,396 COVID-19 cases confirmed since the virus was first detected in the city of 93,000 in March 2020, leading officials to declare an emergency that shut down the economy.

There were three virus-related deaths reported last week, bringing the total number of residents who have died with the virus to 260. Deaths typically take about two weeks to report.

The continuing decrease in confirmed cases reflects a trend across Los Angeles County, which earlier this month moved back to the medium Community Level on the Centers for Disease (CDC) COVID-19 framework.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and virus-related deaths continue to decline, according to data from Los Angeles County Health.

The 7-day average case count on Friday was 3,577 cases, a 2 percent drop from an average of 3,660 cases a week before, while hospitalizations dropped to 940 on Friday, down from 1,065 a week earlier.

Virus-related deaths, which typically lag hospitalizations by several weeks, dropped slightly to an average of 13 deaths reported each day this past week, compared to an average of 14 daily reported deaths one week ago.

The drop in key metrics comes without additional County health protocols and a public that is growing weary of the mandates that have been imposed on and off for nearly two-and-a half years ("As COVID Cases Drop, Complacency Grows," August 9, 2022).

According to latest government data, 11,990 doses of the highly touted protein-based Novavax vaccine have been administered in the U.S., which has an estimated population of nearly 332 million.

On Monday, the CDC signed off on the use of the vaccine for adolescents aged 12 through 17.

The sign-off comes one week after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky admitted the agency, whose recommendations have been followed in most of the country, had made major mistakes.

“For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Walensky said in a statement.

In a video for staff last Wednesday, Walensky reportedly expanded on the shortcomings of the CDC's response and announced the need for a "reset," according to a report in Bloomberg.

“To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes -- from testing, to data, to communications,” she reportedly said.

Local City and School District officials are maintaining a cautious approach to the latest Omicron variants, which are more contagious, but milder and far less fatal, than previous versions of the virus.

School District officials last week announced a plan to provide free weekly at-home testing kits to all students and staff, exceeding recommendations from the County and State ("School District Opts for Weekly COVID Testing at Home," August 15, 2022).

Santa Monica-Malibu was one of 62 public school districts and 203 private and charter schools in LA County that had testing programs in place as school reopened.

On Tuesday, the City Council is expected to approve contracts and policies that will keep Santa Monica in COVID mode with continued testing, contact tracing and remote meetings for most Boards and Commissions ("City Council Poised to Approve COVID-Related Contracts," August 17, 2022).

To date, there have been 3,383,792 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 in LA County, which has a population of more than 10 million, and 33,027 virus-related deaths.

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