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Weekly COVID Cases Surge in Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

May 24, 2022 -- The number of weekly coronavirus cases in Santa Monica surged to the highest level since January, while two virus related deaths were reported, according to County Health data.

The 463 cases confirmed last week -- up from 308 -- were the most since 724 cases were confirmed in Santa Monica in the last week of January, before the winter surge began to wane.

The two virus-related deaths came after three residents died with the virus the previous week, according to County data.

The latest surge -- which is due to the spread of the highly contagious Omicron BA.2 lineage and sub-lineages -- brings the total number of cases as of Sunday to 18,876, according to County data.

A total of 246 residents have died since the virus took hold in March 2020 in the beach city of some 93,000. Virus-related deaths typically take two weeks to confirm, health officials have said.

There have been a total of 2,945,669 COVID cases confirmed in Los Angeles County, which has a population of more than 10 million, according to County health officials. A total of 30,407 residents have died with the virus.

"Omicron, which is known to be 20 to 30 percent more easily transmitted than previous strains, accounted for 100 percent of all positive cases for sequenced specimens collected in the week ending April 30," health officials said.

"While the BA.2 Omicron variant remains the predominant variant in LA County, BA.2.12.1, is becoming more common in LA County, which is of concern since it is more transmissible that BA.2," officials said.

The BA.2.12.1 sub-lineage accounted for 27 percent of positive sequenced specimens as of April 30, compared to 3 percent a month earlier, reflecting a nationwide trend.

"The higher case numbers have translated to an increased number of people getting severely ill and needing to be hospitalized," health officials said.

Last week, the average daily number of patients in LA County hospitals who tested positive was 378, up from a daily average of 220 a month ago.

"Deaths, which typically lag hospitalizations by several weeks, remain stable at an average of seven deaths reported per day this past week," officials said.

There also have been outbreaks in high risk settings, with 22 taking place in skilled nursing facilities last week and 13 new outbreaks among the homeless.

"The numbers in LA County are increasing across nearly all of our metrics reflecting the reality of the dominance of highly infectious mutated variants," said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

On Tuesday, County Health officials released "Mortality in Los Angeles County, 2020: Provisional Report," which "compares the provisional number of deaths and associated death rates and leading causes of death among LA County residents in 2020 with what was reported in 2019."

According to the report, there were 81,083 deaths reported in LA County in 2020, 16,566 more than were reported in 2019, an increase of 26 percent.

The leading cause of death in 2020 remained coronary heart disease, accounting for 12,207 deaths, followed by COVID-19, which accounted for 11,101 deaths.

Alzheimer’s disease accounted for 4,978 deaths, stroke for 4,026 deaths and diabetes accounted for 3,527 deaths.

The highest death rate was among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, followed by American Indians and Alaska Natives, Blacks, Hispanics, Whites and Asians, according to the report.

“The large increase in deaths over the space of only one year is unprecedented in modern times, and to a large degree reflects the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ferrer said.

“The disparities we see are longstanding but have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and are rooted in the inequitable social, economic, and environmental conditions, structural racism, and differential access to health-promoting resources experienced by different groups," she said.

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