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Omicron Keeps Shattering Case Records in Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

January 11, 2022 -- The Omicron variant continued sweeping through Santa Monica -- and the nation -- last week shattering weekly case records repeatedly set and broken over the past month.

There were a record 1,902 coronavirus cases confirmed in the city last week, easily surpassing the 1,502 and 1,085 cases reported the previous two weeks, according to LA County Health data.

In fact, a total of 4,489 cases have been confirmed in Santa Monica over the past three weeks -- more than one-third of the 12,047 cases reported in the city over the past 22 months.

There have been two coronavirus-related deaths reported in Santa Monica over the past month, bringing the total number to 198.

While the Omicron variant is far milder, with symptoms similar to those of the common cold, and far less fatal that previous strains, alarmed citizens have been flocking to local hospitals.

The sudden rise in hospitalizations -- which reached the highest level in nearly a year -- has prompted County Health officials to discourage patients from seeking medical care that may not need.

"With surging transmission and rapidly rising cases and hospitalizations, our already understaffed health care providers are under enormous strain as they try to care for so many COVID infected people," said County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

These include "those with mild illness who are looking for help and support, with the unintended consequence of compromising response capacity across the entire system," Ferrer said.

In addition, an estimated 55 percent of COVID-positive patients hospitalized during the week ending December 26 were unaware they were infected until they were tested upon admission.

The Omicron variant has also been sweeping through Santa Monica nursing homes, businesses and institutions, where those being infected may not be residents of the city included in the local tallies.

As of Monday, County Health data showed that 86 staff members and 55 residents at Residential Congregate and Acute Care Settings in Santa Monica have tested positive, according to County data.

In addition, there were 114 employees of local businesses that tested positive and 82 City employees, the data show.

Of the City employees, 46 work in the Public Safety facility, 18 are Big Blue Bus employees, eight are in Public Works, seven work at the Swim Center and three in the Fire Department.

The County does not indicate how many of those who test positive have been vaccinated, but the Omicron variant is spreading widely among the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, the data show.

In LA County, there are 991 new cases per 100,000 residents who are unvaccinated and 842 among those who are fully vaccinated, including 254 cases per 100,000 of those who are fully vaccinated with boosters.

County Health officials said the vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalizations.

On Tuesday, Public Health reported it has identified a total 2,046,208 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County, with a positivity rate of 21 percent.

The total number of COVID-related deaths in L.A. County is 27,812, according to County Health officials.

Last week, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said most of those who have recently died nationwide had serious underlying health conditions.

"The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 per cent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities," Walensky tweeted.

"So really these are people who were unwell to begin with and yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron."

Walesky immediately came under fire for downplaying the deaths of those who are chronically ill or disabled.

After the backlash she tweeted, "CDC is taking steps to protect those at highest risk, including those with chronic health conditions, disabilities and older adults."

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