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Santa Monica Sees Weekly Surge in COVID-Related Deaths

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By Jorge Casuso

December 19, 2022 -- Santa Monica saw a surge in reported COVID-related deaths last week with four, the most in three months, according to data from the the LA County Health Department.

The four deaths -- which typically take two weeks to report -- equal the number reported over the previous ten weeks and bring the death toll to 282 since the first coronavirus case was reported in the city of 93,000 in March 2020.

There was one virus-related death reported at the Beachwood Post-Acute and Rehab, a nursing home in Santa Monica, according to the data.

County Health does not indicate whether those who test positive in an institutional setting are local residents and included in the city's tally.

The surge in local virus-related deaths reflects a countywide trend that saw the reported seven-day average number of deaths per day nearly double over the past two weeks -- from 11 to 20.

Of the 20 deaths reported on Friday, one person was between the ages of 18 and 29, while the rest were 65 and older, according to detailed data the County releases once a week. Eighteen had underlying health conditions.

The reported COVID-related deaths -- which bring the total to 34,410 -- come as hospitalizations continue to rise, "surpassing numbers seen at this time last year," County Health officials said.

There are 1,261 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, up from 794 a month ago, according to Public Health data.

The number of available hospital beds in LA County has reached its lowest level of the pandemic, with 242 adult beds available countywide last Monday, health officials said at a press briefing Thursday.

That is due in part to "the high circulating levels of respiratory viruses, resulting in a very high volume of patients,” said County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

“It’s reasonable to speculate that part of the reason for the low number of available hospital beds is due to many patients seeking care that may have been delayed during earlier months of the pandemic," Ferrer said.

The increases in virus-related deaths and hospitalizations kept LA County in the High Community Level based on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) designation, despite a decrease in reported cases.

On Friday, there was an average of some 2,920 cases reported per day, a nearly 20 percent decrease from the 7-day average of 3,639 cases reported per day the previous week.

Health officials say the number of confirmed cases could be a significant under-count since an increasing number of tests are conducted at home and may not be reliably reported to health agencies.

"Although the number of reported COVID-19 cases declined slightly in Los Angeles County, they remain more than 120 percent higher than numbers observed one month ago and wastewater data reaffirms that transmission of COVID is currently high," County officials said Friday

"For the most recent week reported, the viral concentration of SARS-CoV-2 observed in wastewater was higher than it was during the peak concentration seen in July during our 2022 summer surge," officials said.

To date, a total of 3,598,453 positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported across all areas of LA County, which has a population of more than 10 million.

Of those, 25,324 cases have been reported in Santa Monica. For the second-week in a row, there were 147 cases confirmed in the city.

Of Santa Monica residents five and older, 91.7 percent have been vaccinated, according to County data.

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