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Santa Monica Sees Weekly Drop in Coronavirus Cases

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

July 20, 2020 -- Santa Monica recorded a drop in coronavirus cases last week and added one new death, as the County -- which saw a record number of hospitalizations Sunday -- beefs up is contact tracing efforts.

Santa Monica's 46 new cases confirmed last week -- down from a record 65 cases the previous week -- brings the city's total reported cases to 554. There have been 35 deaths among residents citywide.

Across Los Angeles County, there were 2,232 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, 16 more than the record set Saturday.

Of those, 26 percent are in the ICU and 19 percent are on ventilators, according to data provided by the County Health Department.

Nine persons with COVID-19 died on Sunday and 11 on Saturday, a drop from the weekly tallies that "may reflect a reporting lag from over the weekend," health officials said.

Of the 20 deaths reported Saturday and Sunday, 14 were over the age of 65 and 16 had underlying health conditions, according to the data.

Ninety-two percent of the 3,160 people who have died had underlying health conditions, which include immune disorders, diabetes, obesity and chronic conditions that affect the lungs, heart and kidneys.

As of Sunday, there have been 159,045 confirmed cases of the virus in the County of some 10 million. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently estimated the rate of infection could be ten times the confirmed number of cases.

In LA County, those under the age of 41 account for 52 percent of all cases, a marked change from the early stages of the virus, which mainly afflicted the elderly.

The spike in cases is in large part due to increased testing, with results available for more than 1,540,000 individuals countywide, up from about 960,000 a month ago.

Of those who have been tested, 9 percent were positive, up from 8 percent the previous month.

As the number of cases and hospitalizations increase, County Health officials have boosted their "contact tracing" efforts, announcing on Monday they are providing $10 million to community-based organizations.

County officials also are piloting a $20 gift card incentive "for full participation in the interview process."

Those with a positive lab result for COVID-19 can expect a call from a "contact tracer" to interview them "about possible exposures and to identify others who may have also been exposed to the infection," officials said.

"They will leave a call back number if necessary. If they cannot reach the patient by phone, they will send a letter."

As of July 7, a total number of 92,523 confirmed positive cases are part of case investigations, health officials said. About 70 percent of interviews are completed.

"The success of contact tracing depends on the timeliness of the testing laboratory to report positive COVID-19 test results to Public Health," officials said.

It also depends on "whether the report contains the individual’s complete and correct contact information, as well as whether individuals respond timely to Public Health’s case interview and contact tracer calls and emails."

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