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Weekly Coronavirus Cases Drop to Three-Month Low, Reporting Backlog Could Be Factor

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By Jorge Casuso

August 18, 2020 -- Last week, Santa Monica marked its lowest weekly number of new coronavirus cases in nearly three months possibly due to a pending backlog of unreported cases.

There were 22 new cases of the virus reported in the city of 93,000 last week, the lowest tally since the week of May 18 ("Coronavirus Cases in Santa Monica Dropped to Record Low Level Last Week," May 26, 2020).

That marks a drop from 39 cases the previous week, a number that may also have been artificially deflated by a backlog of as many as 300,000 test results across the state.

State Health officials blame the backlog on data failures that prevented the results from being uploaded into the system.

"Public Health still anticipates receiving backlog cases from the state electronic lab report (ELR)," Los Angeles Health officials said Monday.

The reporting issue does not affect the number of hospitalizations and deaths, health officials said.

The number of confirmed deaths in Santa Monica has been adjusted from 38 last week to 37. Health officials said the numbers "are subject to change based on further investigation."

As of 8 p.m. Sunday, there were 710 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Santa Monica.

As of 8 p.m. Sunday, County health officials reported a total of 223,131 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5,237 deaths across the County of more than 10 million.

“Because there are so many people infected with COVID-19 and spreading the virus who have no symptoms," Health Director Barbara Ferrer urged the public to do everything possible to avoid coming into contact with those outside their households.

“With the warm weather, this can be challenging as we seek to find places to go that offer relief from the heat," she added.

New research indicates that immunity to COVID-19, even in those displaying only miild systems, can be strong and lasting.

"The findings could help quell recent concerns over the virus’s ability to dupe the immune system into amnesia, leaving people vulnerable to repeat bouts of disease," according to an article published Sunday in the New York Times.

The virus is likely also far more widespread than testing results indicate.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated the rate of infection could be ten times the confirmed number of cases, putting the countywide number at more than 2 million.

Both the number of hospitalizations and deaths in LA County have dropped in recent weeks.

In the last month, daily hospitalizations decreased by 37 percent -- from 2,219 in mid-July to 1,388 in mid-August, County health officials said.

On Sunday, there were 1,341 confirmed cases hospitalized, with 33 percent of those in the ICU.

The number of people who died with the virus also dropped -- from an average of 43 daily reported deaths in late July to 30 in mid August.

Of those who have died with the coronavirus, 92 percent had underlying health conditions, officials said.

The conditions include immune disorders, diabetes, obesity and chronic conditions that affect the lungs, heart and kidneys, according to the CDC.

County health officials continue to boost the Department's contact tracing program.

To date, the Health Department has issued isolation and quarantine orders to nearly 230,000 people infected with or exposed to the virus.

Of those, 177,959 were isolation orders to people who have been infected and 51,418 were quarantine orders to close contacts of infected people, health officials said.

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