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COVID Cases Drop in Santa Monica, Countywide

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By Jorge Casuso

December 15, 2022 -- Coronavirus cases fell last week in Santa Monica and across Los Angeles County despite warnings from Health officials that a post-Thanksgiving surge could be looming as holiday season kicks in.

There were 147 cases confirmed in the city of some 93,000 last week, a 22 percent decrease from the 189 cases reported the previous week, according to data from County Public Health.

That mirrors a 21 percent drop countywide, where the seven-day average of 3,779 cases a day dropped to 2,991 over the past seven days, according to the data.

To date, Santa Monca has a total of 25,228 confirmed cases since the first case was reported on March, 17, 2020. A total of 279 local residents have died with the virus, with two reported over the past 10 days.

It typically takes about two weeks to report a coronavirus-related death, according to health officials.

The slight increase in local deaths also reflects a countywide trend that saw the seven-day average of about 12 deaths rise to about 16 over the past seven days, according to the data.

"Data shows that people over 65 and people living in areas with the highest poverty rate are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID in Los Angeles County, regardless of vaccination status," County Health officials said.

The number of patients with COVID in hospitals countywide has also ticked up, from a seven-day average of about 1,234 patients a day to 1,258 last week.

Most of those hospitalized have been admitted for conditions unrelated to COVID and only learned they were infected after being tested, health officials have said.

Newer subvariants of the less serious and less fatal Omicron variant -- namely BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 -- now account for 67.8 percent of all new infections in the LA region, according to data from the centers for Disease Control (CDC).

County Health officials caution that the recent drop in cases could be short-lived.

"We've seen that even during the worst of surges, cases will start to come down after a few weeks," L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a recent briefing.

"It would be dangerous, however, for us to feel that we no longer need to try to minimize the impact of these surges by taking some practical steps that can reduce transmission and illness severity."

County Health officials caution that colder weather and indoor gatherings could drive up the number of cases and hospitalizations, triggering the return of indoor mask mandates.

According to the LA Times, "L.A. County is the only part of California that has publicly committed to instituting a public indoor mask mandate should pandemic conditions worsen to the point that COVID-19 is exerting sustained pressure on hospitals."

For that to happen, the weekly rate of new patients admitted with the virus would have to be at least 10 per 100,000 residents, and at least 10 percent of staffed inpatient hospital beds would need to filled with those patients for two consecutive weeks.

The County has reached the first threshold and was on track to reach the second by year's end before the current slowdown.

To date there have been 3,595,218 coronavirus cases confirmed in the county of more than 10 milllion and 34,390 virus-related deaths, according to County Health data.

The number of confirmed cases could be a significant undercount since an increasing number of tests are conducted at home and may not be reliably reported to health agencies, officials said.

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