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Individual with COVID Attended Tuesday's Council Meeting, City Officials Say

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By Lookout Staff

July 20, 2023 -- During a record low level of COVID-related hospitalizations, Santa Monica officials announced Thursday that an individual who attended Tuesday's City Council meeting had tested positive for the virus.

City officials did not say if the individual was a member of the public or works for the City, although the wording of the statement issued seems to indicate the latter.

"We have been informed that the individual had self-isolated and has not been on site since that time and will not return until medically cleared to do so," the statement read.

"The common areas at their work location are disinfected on a regular basis in accordance with CDC and LA County Department of Health Guidelines."

Anyone who attended the meeting is considered to have had a "close contact" with the individual, said Don Cocozza, the City's Safety Administrator

"Close contact" requires sharing the same indoor space with an infectious person "for a cumulative total of 15 or more minutes over a 24-hour period."

A person who meets the definition should follow the LA County Public Health guidelines and "monitor symptoms closely and if symptoms arise, quarantine and test at that time," Cocozza said.

They also should wear a high-quality mask when indoors or around others for 10 days from last contact and test 3 to 5 days from the last contact.

The announcement comes as LA County has seen a 32 percent increase in the number of reported COVID cases over the past week -- from 1,544 cases to 2,034, Health officials said.

Although a valuable indicator of general trends, the case numbers represent an undercount due to the large number of at-home COVID test results that are not reported to Public Health, officials said.

There also have been increases in "virus concentrations in wastewater" and "the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests."

The increases are "possibly the result of high levels of exposure during Fourth of July festivities, summer travel, and the unusually high temperatures that are keeping people indoors more often," Health officials said.

The number of patients with COVID admitted to County hospitals -- which is considered the most reliable metric -- has remained at a record low.

Santa Monica saw the number of confirmed weekly coronavirus cases drop to 24, the lowest level since the first cornonavirus cases were reported in March 2020, according to County data released Thursday.

There has been a total of 26,709 coronavirus cases reported in the city of some 93,000 and 306 virus-related deaths, with one death reported over the past five weeks.

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