Three news cases of coronavirus were reported in Santa Monica Thursday, bringing the city’s total number of confirmed cases to 21.

Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said at a press conference Thursday 421 people were diagnosed with coronavirus after an additional 4,000 tests were processed this week. The total number of cases in L.A. County now stands at 1,216 and more than 9,400 people have been tested. 

“Testing capacity is increasing but there’s still a limited supply,” Ferrer said. “Symptomatic people are the only ones who should be tested after a clinical evaluation from their healthcare provider.”

Ferrer said the number of cases in L.A. County could surge to 1 million within a few weeks if people who have tested positive for coronavirus, may have the virus or were exposed to someone with the virus don’t follow self-quarantine orders. In that scenario, 200,000 people would need to be hospitalized, she said.

Ferrer also announced nine new deaths, bringing the death toll to 21. She did not release information about the nine individuals who died because their families are still being notified. The L.A. County mortality rate is 1.6% and the national mortality rate is about 1.5%.

Two hundred and forty-three people with the virus have at some point been hospitalized, representing about 21% of cases, Ferrer said. 

The county has 208 available ICU beds and about 830 ventilators, said Christina Ghaly, director of the L.A. County Department of Health Services. She said hospitals can increase their bed capacity to accommodate a surge in patients but did not specify how many ICU beds could be added.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that L.A. County has depleted its stockpile of protective face masks and gowns for healthcare workers. Ghaly acknowledged the shortage of protective equipment at Thursday’s press conference and said FEMA and private manufacturers are shipping more supplies to L.A. County.

The number of cases in California topped 3,200 Thursday and the death toll approached 70. Nationwide, more than 74,000 people have tested positive and more than 1,000 have died. Officials across the country say the peak is yet to come and are urging the federal government to provide more protective equipment and ventilators.

As the pandemic brings many sectors of the economy to a halt, more than 3.3 million people nationwide filed for unemployment last week, and California is processing 1 million claims from the last two weeks. 

A $2 trillion relief package the Senate passed Wednesday is expected to provide most Americans with a $1,200 check, increase unemployment benefits by $600 per week for four months, and extend close to a trillion in loans and assistance to small businesses, corporations, state and local governments and hospitals.

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  1. Why do you always print scare tactics? For example on the cover of your paper today you printed 100+ cases of covid 19 in Santa Monica, I don’t have the exact number in print because I trashed the paper. The LA county health dept. puts the number of cases at 28. I think you could be more responsible in your reporting and not scare the public with you sensationalism.

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