Three new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Santa Monica Thursday, with seven confirmed over the last two days for a total of 56 cases in the city.

Santa Monica’s case count has exactly doubled in one week, while the number of cases in Los Angeles County has nearly tripled to 4,045. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, announced Thursday 534 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county, with more than 1,000 cases over the last 48 hours. More than 23,000 people have been tested as of April 1, she said.

Ferrer also said an additional 13 people have died after contracting coronavirus, bringing the L.A. County death toll to 78 and the mortality rate to 1.9%. The department has not released geographic information about recent deaths. 

Twelve of the 13 individuals were older than 65 and 11 of those older individuals had underlying health conditions. Another individual between 41 and 65 who died also had underlying conditions. 

Eighty-six percent of the 78 L.A. County residents who have died had underlying conditions, Ferrer said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of every Angeleno who has lost someone to this frightening disease,” she said. “The psychological impact of rising case counts and deaths is real, both individually and collectively, and I urge everyone to take care of their emotional health and to check in frequently with those in your extended communities. This will be a long haul, and we have many weeks of work ahead before we begin to see the benefits of our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Ferrer said the county is investigating 54 institutional settings with at least one confirmed case of coronavirus. One hundred and fourteen staffers and 185 residents and guests have tested positive. Eleven residents of nursing homes have died.

Nine people experiencing homelessness and seven jail and prison inmates have the virus, Ferrer said Thursday. Two people working in homeless shelters and six people working in L.A. County jails have also tested positive.

She said officials are moving people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive or been exposed into self-isolation or quarantining entire shelters if they are small enough. One shelter just moved 22 people experiencing homelessess who were exposed to coronavirus into individual rooms, Ferrer said.

Nearly 900 cases have been hospitalized at some point, representing 22% of cases, she said. 241 people are currently hospitalized, 28% of whom are in the ICU. One hundred and fifty-three people currently hospitalized are 55 and older. 

As the number of cases in California surpassed 10,00 and the death toll topped 200, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday urged people to wear homemade masks to prevent themselves from spreading coronavirus to others. 

Ferrer said Thursday that members of the public should make their own masks rather than buying N95 masks or surgical masks, which are in short supply and must be reserved for healthcare workers. Nurses at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and Providence St. John’s Medical Center last week said they were being asked to reuse masks or refrain from using N95 masks in coronavirus patients’ rooms.

“If you’re out and not able to do all the social distancing we’re asking you to do, it is probably a good idea given the evidence you could be asymptomatic but still infectious to cover your nose and mouth,” Ferrer said.

To slow the spread of coronavirus locally, Santa Monica public schools will close indefinitely and county beaches, beach bike paths and public trails will close through at least April 19, officials said last week.

City of Santa Monica parks and farmers markets are still open, but Palisades Park was closed last weekend to prevent crowding. The city’s public buildings, nonessential businesses, playgrounds, Santa Monica Pier and beach parking lots are closed through the end of April.

City Manager Rick Cole announced last week fines for individuals and businesses violating the stay at home orders that range from $100 to $1,000. Santa Monica Police Department Chief Cynthia Renaud said she has directed officers to contact, inform, educate and encourage compliance before resorting to citations.

Cole announced Wednesday that construction sites, which Gov. Gavin Newsom has deemed essential and are allowed to stay open under his Safer at Home order, must operate in accordance with social distancing and hygiene standards. The city has the authority to halt construction if the requirements are not followed, said city spokesperson Constance Farrell.

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