Public health officials said Wednesday that 18 Santa Monica residents have tested positive for coronavirus, out of 799 confirmed cases in Los Angeles County that include 34 in Brentwood and nine in Venice.

Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health, said Wednesday three L.A. County residents older than 65 with underlying health conditions died after contracting coronavirus, bringing the county death toll to 11. Officials are no longer including a child who died earlier this week in the total because the Centers for Disease Control is investigating whether the death resulted from coronavirus.

Ferrer said the county’s coronavirus death rate is 1% and the national death rate is 1.5%. 

Eighty percent of L.A. County residents who have tested positive for coronavirus are between 18 and 65, with 40% between 18 and 40, Ferrer said Wednesday.

One hundred and sixty patients have been hospitalized at some point, representing 20% of all cases. 44 people are currently hospitalized.

Ferrer said more than 6,300 people were tested as of Tuesday and 11% tested positive. The homeless and inmate populations are being tested but no cases have been confirmed in either group, she said.

L.A. County has 285 open ICU beds, 2,000 open non-ICU beds and 820 available ventilators, said Christina Ghaly, director of the L.A. County Department of Health Services.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday he believes California and L.A. County will see a rapid increase in infections and deaths in the coming weeks and months as testing capacity increases and the virus continues to spread. As of Wednesday, more than 2,600 Californians had tested positive and 55 had died.

Ferrer said the county is not yet seeing the same sharp rise in cases at New York City, which has nearly 18,000 confirmed cases and a slightly smaller population than L.A. County, but has the potential to see a similar-sized outbreak.

“We would be foolish not to prepare for (an acceleration of cases) in L.A. County,” she said. “New York City is testing lots more people than we’re testing here, so we need to be prepared as we test more people for a rapid acceleration.”

As nearly 60,000 people in the United States tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday, lawmakers approved a $2 trillion federal stimulus package that will provide some relief for workers and businesses suffering under the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. 

In April, the federal government will send a $1,200 check to every individual who earned up to $75,000 in 2018 and married couples who earned up to $150,000. Smaller amounts of money to taxpayers with earnings above those thresholds. Families will receive an extra $500 per child.

Individuals who earned $99,000 or more and married couples who earned $198,000 or more will not receive checks.

Workers who have been laid off or lost hours will receive $600 per week in addition to their state unemployment benefits for four months. People who are self-employed or work in the gig economy will also receive unemployment assistance. In Santa Monica, eleven major hotels have closed and restaurants have laid off workers, city officials said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that one million Californians applied for unemployment benefits in March and said homeowners financially impacted by coronavirus would be able to defer mortgage payments for three months. Although many cities across the state including Santa Monica have suspended evictions, there is no statewide moratorium on evictions.

Under the federal stimulus plan, small businesses will be able to access $350 billion in loans through the end of June. The loans will be forgiven if businesses keep paying workers during the pandemic. 

Corporations will be able to borrow money from a pool of $435 billion and an additional $75 billion will be dedicated toward airlines and hotels.

The healthcare industry will receive hundreds of billions of dollars to accommodate a surge in coronavirus patients and pay for protective gear and tests.

madeleine@smdp.com

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