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Local COVID Cases Saw Dramatic Rise Last Year

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By Jorge Casuso

January 3, 2023 -- The number of coronavirus cases reported in Santa Monica rose more than two-thirds last year, while virus-related deaths dropped one-third, according to an analysis of data from LA County Public Health.

The number of local cases jumped from 7,353 confirmed cases in 2021 to 12,380 cases last year, a 68 percent increase. Meanwhile the number of deaths dropped from 126 to 89, a decrease of 34 percent, according to the data.

During the first year of the pandemic -- which began taking hold in the beach city of 93,000 in March 2020 -- a total of 2,901 cases were confirmed and 72 deaths were reported.

The dramatic rise in cases last year was driven by the rapid spread of the much milder Omicron variant and its subvarients and was accompanied by relatively few virus-related deaths, according to the data.

Cases began to surge during the 2021-22 holiday season, when 2,587 local cases were reported during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year, the data show. That compares to a total of 211 cases confirmed over the past two weeks.

There were five COVID-related deaths reported during the same period this year, up from two cases last year. It takes about two weeks to report a virus related death, according to County Health officials.

The relatively low number of fatalities reported over the last two holiday seasons marked a dramatic drop from the deadly winter of 2020-21, when a record 12 deaths were reported in Santa Monica during New Year's week.

That surge came amid a regional Stay At Home Order issued on December 6, 2020 that prohibited private gatherings of any size, closed non-essential businesses and required 100 percent masking and physical distancing.

The latest weekly tallies bring the total number of coronavirus cases confirmed in Santa Monica to 25,535, according to County data. There have been 287 virus-related deaths.

In LA County, which has a population of more than 10 million, a total of 3,638,639 cases and 34,730 deaths had been reported as of noon Monday.

Health officials say the number of confirmed cases could be a significant under-count since an increasing number of tests are conducted at home and may not be reliably reported to health agencies.

On Friday, officials reported that over the previous seven days, the average number of daily COVID-positive patients in LA County hospitals is 1,207, a slight decrease over the previous week.

Virus-related deaths were also down during the same period -- from an average of 22 deaths reported per day to an average of 16 deaths per day.

LA County remains in Medium Community Level, based on its case rate and hospitalization numbers, but officials worry that "winter holiday travel and celebrations could lead to a rise in COVID-19 cases, similar to what was experienced after Thanksgiving," according to a statement issued last week.

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