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Santa Monica Surpasses 400 Coronavirus Cases, as County Cases Top 100,000

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By Jorge Casuso

June 29, 2020 -- Confirmed coronavirus cases in Santa Monica reached 401 on Sunday, as the County surpassed 100,000 reported cases, according to Health Department data.

The 41 cases reported in Santa Monica last week was the highest weekly tally since a record 52 cases were confirmed during the first week of June.

The spike -- due to increased testing, business re-openings and large-scale protests across the region -- comes after cases had declined for two straight weeks.

Three COVID-19 related deaths were reported last week in Santa Monica, bringing the total to 31 as of 8 p.m. Sunday.

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Local nursing homes have reported 39 deaths -- three of them last week -- and 285 cases among residents and staff, up slightly from 279 the previous week.

The County Health Department confirmed 2,903 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total to 100,772 in the County of some 10 million. There were 22 new deaths reported.

The Department "continues to see alarming trends of community spread," as "key metrics continue to show steep increases," officials said.

The average number of daily cases reported last week was nearly 2,000, up from an average of 1,379 cases two weeks ago.

And the number of daily hospitalizations has increased, from an average of between 1,350 to 1,450 in recent weeks to 1,710 hospitalizations on Sunday.

“The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations signals that we, as a community, need to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19," said County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferer.

"Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our healthcare system and seeing even more devastating illness and death," Ferrer said.

Of the more than 1,089,000 individuals whose test results are available, 9 percent were positive, up from the "positivity rate" of 8 percent that had been holding steady, officials said.

The daily average positivity rate over the past week has increased to 8.4 percent, from the lowest daily rate of 4.6 percent in late May .

Last week, County health officials cautioned that the number of new coronavirus cases could increase with the reopening of businesses and beaches, and the ongoing protests over the police killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day.

Of the recent cases, 42 percent were among those between the ages of 18 and 40, an age group with a lower risk of serious illness and death but that can spread the infection to more vulnerable older adults, health officials said.

It is also the age group that made up the majority of the participants in the recent protests that saw demonstrators keeping little social distancing.

According to a recent nationwide poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 41 percent of those who said they attended a protest were between the ages of 18 and 29. Another 38 percent were between 30 and 49.

Of the 22 new deaths confirmed on Sunday, 18 were over the age of 65 and 18 had underlying health conditions.

Of the 2,903 persons who have died, 93 percent had underlying health conditions, County health officials said.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), indicate that the fatality rate due to the coronavirus is likely lower than previously thought.

The CDC estimates that the number of people who have been infected with COVID-19 could be ten times higher than the 2.4 million confirmed cases nationwide.

That's because the virus causes "so much asymptomatic infection" that many people may not have been tested or even known they had it, said the agency's director Robert Redfield.

The CDC's findings reflect the results of a groundbreaking anti-body test conducted in April in LA County ("Coronavirus Fatality Rate "Much Lower" Than Previously Thought, LA County Health Officials Say," April 20, 2020).

The results indicated "infections from the COVID-19 are far more widespread -- and the fatality rate much lower -- in L.A. County than previously thought."

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