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Local COVID Cases Drop

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By Jorge Casuso

January 19, 2023 -- Coronavirus cases in Santa Monica dropped over the past ten days as an anticipated post-holiday surge in LA County has failed to materialize.

But there were three COVID-related deaths reported during the same period, reflecting what County officials say ia a "sobering rise in deaths."

The 103 cases confirmed since January 9 was a marked decrease from the 128 cases reported in Santa Monica the previous week, bringing the total number of cases to 25,766, accoring to County Health data.

The three new deaths reported were the most since four deaths were reported in one week a month ago and bring the total number of virus-related deaths in the city to 290. Deaths typically take two weeks to report.

According to County Health officials, most COVID-19 metrics "are better than anticipated at this point in the post-holiday season and when compared to past winters."

"There may be challenges ahead, but I am encouraged by the current situation, especially compared to last year at this time," said Public health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Los Angeles County remains in the Medium Community level, with a case rate of 122 new cases per 100,000 people and a hospital admission rate of 11.9 per 100,000 people as of last Friday.

Last week, the county reported an average of 23 deaths per day, an increase of 15 percent from the average of 20 deaths reported per day the previous week.

During the same period, the average number of daily patients with COVID in Los Angeles County hospitals was 1,114, a decline of about 11 percent from 1,247 the previous week.

That number continued to drop this week, falling below 1,000 on Monday and steadily declining to a low of 918 hospitalized patients reported Thursday.

The elderly and poor are at higher risk of being hospitalized or dying, according to County data complied over the past 90 days.

Those who are 80 and older have a hospitalization rate three time higher than those 65 to 79 years old and a death rate five time higher.

Similarly, those 65 to 79 years old have triple the rate of hospitalization than those ages 50 to 64 and five times the death rate, according to data for the 90-day period ending January 3.

Hospitalization and death rates are nearly double for people living in the county’s poorest neighborhoods, compared to those in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

Many poorer residents are "part of our essential workforce who, by the very nature of their jobs, are in close contact with other workers and customers," County officials said.

That increases their exposure to COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, "particularly during times of high community transmission," officials said.

Despite the decrease in cases, there have been several outbreaks of the coronavirus in Santa Monica.

At Berkley East Healthcare Center ten staff members and nine residents tested positive for the virus and at Good Shepherd Health Care Center two staff members and 21 residents tested positive.

At the Santa Monica Alternative School House (SMASH), two staff and 20 students tested positive.

Cases among those in residential facilities and attending local schools may not be reflected in Santa Monica's count.

Last week, the City announced it will end its health emergency for the cornonavirus pandemic on February 28, nearly three years after it was declared ("Santa Monica To End COVID Emergency," January 11, 2023).

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