Santa Monica has required people to wear masks whenever they leave their homes. (Matthew Hall)

The spread of coronavirus in Santa Monica continued to slow over the weekend, with four cases reported Saturday and Sunday and no new cases reported Monday.

Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health officer, announced 239 new cases Monday, the smallest number of daily cases reported since March 26, for a total of 9,420 confirmed cases in Los Angeles County. However, she cautioned that less testing and processing occurs over the weekend, which usually reduces Monday figures.

Nearly 52,000 county residents have been tested and 13% have tested positive, but many more cases exist that have not been confirmed because the county is only processing 5,000 to 6,000 tests each day, she said.

In Santa Monica, the number of cases reported rose 19% over the last seven days. In the first two weeks of the outbreak, cases rose exponentially as the city closed tourist attractions, nonessential businesses, public buildings and schools, beaches and playgrounds. Public parks, except for Palisades Park, and farmers markets have remained open.

Since Friday, people have been required to wear face coverings while visiting or working in Santa Monica’s essential businesses.

Philip Bretsky, a physician at Santa Monica Primary Care, has tested roughly 100 people since mid-March and its first confirmed case tested positive on March 18. The percentage of patients who tested positive each day ranged between 12% and 15%, peaking on March 25, he said.

The proportion of positive tests has been in steady decline since March 30, dropping to 12% on April 3 and 11% on April 9, Bretsky said.

“The shelter in place order happened on March 19, and with any outbreak, the effects of public health interventions have a lag time,” he said. “At least here in our own little slice of Santa Monica, we’ve dropped pretty definitively.”

The county and state are also slowing the spread of coronavirus, but cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to grow. Across California, more than 23,000 people have the virus, nearly 700 have died and roughly 3,000 are hospitalized.

A little more than 1,000 county residents are currently hospitalized and 18% are in the ICU, Ferrer said. Fifteen percent of hospitalized cases are on ventilators.

Ferrer announced Monday that another 25 people had died, 11 of whom were older than 65 with underlying health conditions. A dozen were between 41 and 65 and 11 of them had underlying conditions. The county lacks data for two deaths in Long Beach.

The death toll now stands at 320 and the mortality rate has jumped to 3.4%, up from 2.4% a week ago. Officials were unable to confirm whether any Santa Monica residents have died.

“Mortality rates go up as new cases go down, because people have been sick for a while and may still pass away,” Ferrer said.

Of the people who have died that the county has demographic information for, 14% were black, 18% were Asian, 33% were Latino, 33% were white and 2% were another race.

About 1 in 3 deaths have occurred among residents of institutions, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

As of Monday, the county was investigating 1,372 cases across residents and staff at 185 institutions, including 89 cases in jails, 28 in prisons and four in juvenile detention facilities. Three institutions under investigation are in Santa Monica: The Manor, The Rehabilitation Center of Santa Monica and Beachwood Post-Acute and Rehab.

Of the 23 confirmed cases among the homeless population, four people resided in shelters and are now quarantined.

Ferrer confirmed 787 cases and three deaths among healthcare workers. One-third of cases are nurses, 9% are physicians and the remainder are EMTs, receptionists, lab workers and other personnel.

She said Friday that the county plans to test a random sample of 1,000 adults for COVID-19 using antibody tests, which can tell if an individual was infected but didn’t develop symptoms or recovered from their illness.

The study will assess the true penetration of coronavirus in L.A. County and help officials decide when to lift the stay at home order, Ferrer said.

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  1. I request to my PCP to be tested for Covid 19 and She told me that 40% came out negative and If I get worse go to ER. Eventhough I told her that I was an essential worker and risk age person.with all the simtomatology:: Dry cough, fever, Sore throat, headaches. The prescription was ODC medicine and just stay home if
    after 3 days w/o fever I will be ok. I lost a job opportunity because of that. I been Thinking to change insurance from SCAN to something else.or change PCP. I had not a follow up text or call if I was doing better or Worse. The detachment from online Dr. Visits dosent creat a rapport for new patients a connections in my experience.We are them.

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