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Three New Coronavirus Deaths Confirmed in Santa Monica, With Two at Third Nursing Home

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By Jorge Casuso

May 6, 2020 -- A Santa Monica resident and two residents of local nursing homes who tested positive for the coronavirus were among the 58 deaths confirmed by Los Angeles County health officials on Tuesday.

That marks the tenth death of a Santa Monica resident and the fourteenth at a Santa Monica nursing home after County officials confirmed the death of two residents at Ocean Pointe Healthcare Center.

Nine residents at the Rehabilitation Center of Santa Monica and three at Beachwood Post-Acute & Rehab also had the coronavirus when they died, health officials said.

County data does not indicate if any of the nursing home residents who have died are among the nine Santa Monica residents included in the city's death toll.

The number of cases confirmed in the beach city of some 93,000 rose to 190, after 19 Santa Monica residents were reported to have tested positive on Monday and Tuesday, according to data from the County Health Department.

The sudden spike -- which comes as testing is increased countywide and a backlog of cases is confirmed -- marks the biggest spike since 41 cases were reported between March 17 and March 29, with 20 cases confirmed during one weekend.

The spike follows a total of 21 cases reported in Santa Monica last week, the lowest weekly total in one and a half months.

Nursing homes -- which do not appear to be reflected in the citywide tally -- have been a flaring hotspot in the beach city, with a total of 122 residents and staff testing positive for COVID 19, up from 111 on Sunday.

The Rehabilitation Center of Santa Monica has had 31 residents and 16 staff members test positive, while 23 residents and 13 staff have tested positive at Beachwood Post-Acute & Rehab.

Seven of the new cases, along with the two deaths, were reported at Ocean Pointe Healthcare Center, where 22 residents and six staff have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 15 residents on Sunday.

Three residents and seven staff members have tested positive at Brentwood Health Care Center and one resident has tested positive at Brookdale Ocean House Assisted Living.

Nursing homes account for nearly half of the 1,313 people who had the virus when they died in Los Angeles County, health officials said.

Many of the deaths have come after California Governor Gavin Newsom's administration issued an order on March 30 requiring skilled nursing facilities (SNF) to accept patients infected with the coronavirus in an effort to free up hospital beds.

The order was issued after strenuous opposition from nursing home officials who feared an outbreak among one of the most vulnerable populations.

To address the outbreak, on April 23, the County issued a new Health Officer Order for all licensed congregate healthcare facilities that includes measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable residents, as well as staff.

The measures include restricting all visitors, suspending all communal dining and activities, testing all residents and staff and frequently checking their temperature, health officials said.

Staff is required to wear surgical masks at all times and residents must wear surgical masks or cloth face coverings when they are outside of their personal rooms.

The Santa Monica cases reported on Tuesday were among the 1,638 new cases and 58 deaths confirmed in LA County on Tuesday.

Of those who died, 45 had underlying health conditions and 43 were over the age of 65, health officials said.

Ninety-three percent of those who have died had underlying health conditions, officials said.

Serious underlying health conditions include "cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies" and severe obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

To date, 5,081 people who tested positive for COVID-19 -- 19 percent of positive cases -- have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

Testing capacity continues to increase in LA County, with testing results available for nearly 183,000 individuals, 13 percent of them testing positive.

LA County plans to soon reopen some businesses and allow employees to return to work.

Health officials are "tracking key measures that inform reopening plans in LA County to ensure it is safe and we still slow the spread of COVID-19."

The measures include making sure the county has enough available hospital beds and personal protective equipment (PPE), sufficient testing capacity and supplies and the "adequate capacity to do case and contact tracing," officials said.

“While we are all looking forward to businesses reopening and getting back to work, we must also do this safely to save lives and prevent an overwhelming of our healthcare system," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the County Director of Public Heath.

"Protecting the people who are most vulnerable is paramount through the reopening process,” she said.

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