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COVID Cases Spike in Santa Monica; Deaths Nationwide Mostly Among Vaccinated

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By Jorge Casuso

November 23, 2022 -- As the holidays get underway, Coronavirus cases jumped last week in Santa Monica after rising steadily for more than a month, according to data from Los Angeles County Public Health.

The increase -- which reflects a countywide trend -- comes as an analysis of state and federal data published by the Washington Post on Wednesday shows the majority of those dying with the coronavirus have been vaccinated or boosted.

The 155 local cases confirmed last week marked a significant rise from the 103 cases the previous week and was more than double the 73 weekly cases reported a month ago.

That brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Santa Monica, which has a population of some 93,000 residents, to 24,683 as of Sunday.

There was one COVID-related death reported last week, bringing the total to 277 since the virus began spreading in March 2020. Deaths typically take about two weeks to report.

Although the virus is spreading more rapidly than before the Omicron strain triggered a record surge last December, the number of weekly deaths is less than half what it was a year ago, according to an analysis of the County data.

The 7-day average case count in LA County is 1,971, a 39 percent increase from one week ago. That is nearly double the 1,077 daily average case count during the same period last year.

But reported virus-related deaths -- which remained at about 8 each day this past week -- are far below the daily average of 19 a year ago.

Still, County health officials are sounding the alarm over the recent increases in cases and hospitalizations as new strains "appear to be gaining dominance."

Last Thursday, health officials "strongly recommended that everyone wear a well-fitting respirator mask in indoor public spaces and when traveling.

"This includes when using public transit such as buses, ride shares, taxis and medical transport."

Health officials are also pushing increased vaccinations during the spread of newly emerging COVID-19 strains BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, but they are encountering a hesitant public.

"Unfortunately, in LA County, uptake of the bivalent booster lags," officials said Wednesday.

"Of the almost 7.5 million residents age 5 years and older who are eligible for a bivalent booster only about 14 percent, or 1.02 million have received one.

"Nearly 86 percent of these residents, or almost 6.5 million people, have not yet received the bivalent booster," health officials said.

An analysis of state and federal data published this week in the Washington Post found that for the first time since the coronavirus emergency was declared, the majority of Americans dying from the virus are at least partially vaccinated.

“We can no longer say this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Kaiser Family Foundation vice president Cynthia Cox, who conducted the analysis on behalf of the Post.

That is in large part due to the waning efficacy of the vaccines and the increasingly contagious strains of the virus, which have resuulted in more deaths among the elderly and immunocompromised, the report concluded.

In August, 58 percent of coronavirus deaths were people who were vaccinated or boosted, according to the Post analysis.

“In September 2021, vaccinated people made up just 23 percent of coronavirus fatalities. In January and February this year, it was up to 42 percent,” according to the report by the Post’s Fenit Nirappil and Dan Keating.

To date, LA County Public Health has reported a total of 3,524,896 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County, which has a population of more than 10 million.

The total number of virus-related deaths is 34,135.

There are 794 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, after the daily average number of hospitalizations over the past seven days rose to 699, up from 539 the previous week.

Most of those hospitalized have been admitted for conditions unrelated to COVID and only learned they were infected after being tested, County officials have said.

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