Eleven new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Santa Monica Tuesday as county officials released a backlog of tests from laboratories that had not previously reported results.
The local outbreak escalated rapidly in late March and the virus has continued to spread, but the rate of growth has decreased each week — except for over the last seven days. While the number of confirmed cases rose just 19.5% between April 9 and 15, the period between April 15 and April 21 saw a 38% increase in cases as L.A. County officials released a backlog of nearly 2,000 test results on Monday and Tuesday.
The total number of confirmed cases in Santa Monica is now 135. But given the results of Los Angeles County’s antibody study, which found that 4% of adults had already been infected by coronavirus by early April, the true number of cases in Santa Monica could be in the thousands. Among L.A. County’s population of 10 million, between 221,000 to 442,000 adults may have had the virus, according to the study.
The number of confirmed cases in the county stands at 15,140, the death toll has reached 663 and more than 1,700 people are hospitalized. More than 89,000 people have been tested, with a 14% positive rate.
The county is investigating 269 institutional settings with at least one confirmed case of coronavirus. Nearly four in 10 deaths from the virus have occurred among residents of skilled nursing facilities and other institutions.
Officials released earlier this week a tally of cases at facilities under investigation. In Santa Monica, there are 60 confirmed cases among residents and staff at three facilities.
The Manor, a residential care facility for adults with mental illnesses, has reported four cases among residents. At the Rehabilitation Center of Santa Monica, a skilled nursing facility, 10 staff and 18 patients have tested positive.
Beachwood Post-Acute & Rehab Center, another skilled nursing facility, reported nine cases among staff and 19 among patients. The facility employs 350 staff and currently has 186 patients. Two patients died after testing positive for the virus, said Beachwood administrator Anton Novitsky.
Novitsky said Beachwood started restricting visitors to essential medical staff and screening everyone who entered the facility in early March. Surgical masks were issued to each worker who entered the facility and residents displaying symptoms were tested.
On April 1, Beachwood designated its second floor as a COVID-19 unit and began issuing face shields, isolation gowns and N95 masks to workers in the isolation ward, Novitsky said.
The nine staff members who have tested positive are believed to have contracted coronavirus outside the facility and are now in isolation with mild symptoms, he said.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the continued rise in cases and the results of the antibody study underscore the need for continued compliance with Safer at Home orders and physical distancing, even as some California communities ease restrictions.
Before relaxing public health orders, jurisdictions must ensure hospitals are ready to handle a potential increase in cases, testing is widely available and people most vulnerable to COVID-19 are protected, Ferrer said.
“The weather is getting beautiful and we share your desire to have a plan for recovery,” she said at a news conference Tuesday. “We must do it in a way that doesn’t cause a surge of hospitalizations and deaths. It’s imperative that we continue to slow the spread.”
She said data that seems to suggest the number of cases in particular jurisdictions has peaked can be misleading.
“Sometimes you have plateaus that come up and down, and that seems to be the pattern for a lot of places in California,” Ferrer said. “Instead of a steep rise like in New York City, we’ve lived on a plateau with small rises and dips.”
This story will be updated to include information from other care facilities in Santa Monica.