Photo by Kit Karzen

Eight Santa Monica residents have died from COVID-19, according to a data dashboard that Los Angeles County launched Tuesday.

The city’s death rate per 100,000 residents is 8.65 and its adjusted death rate, which accounts for age distribution, is 6.44. Ten patients at two Santa Monica nursing homes have also died, but it is unknown how many were permanent Santa Monica residents and therefore count toward the city’s death toll.

In Culver City, the adjusted death rate is 3.54. Beverly Hills has an adjusted death rate of 6.03.

“While the novel coronavirus has changed our lives, none are more deeply impacted than Santa Monicans grieving the death of a family member or friend,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown and Interim City Manager Lane Dilg in a joint statement. “Our hearts are heavy as we extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of residents who have passed because of this deadly virus. Let us all remain vigilant in protecting ourselves and one another, including the most vulnerable in our community.”

Two new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Santa Monica Tuesday, bringing the city’s total to 156. The spread of the virus slowed over the past week, with the number of cases only 15.5% above last Tuesday’s total of 135. The week before, cases rose by 41%.

Fifty-five residents and 31 staff at five institutions in Santa Monica had tested positive as of Monday night.

Seven patients at The Rehabilitation Center of Santa Monica and three at Beachwood Post-Acute & Rehab have died from COVID-19, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced 59 new deaths throughout the county Tuesday, bringing the death toll in L.A. County to 1,000. More than 400 of those who died resided in nursing homes.

The county needs to accelerate its ability to quickly identify and isolate asymptomatic and symptomatic residents and staff, Ferrer said. County officials only began requiring nursing homes with outbreaks to test asymptomatic residents and staff last week.

“The pandemic has amplified the cracks in our society, including the care and protection of people who are older and medically fragile,” Ferrer said in a statement. “While managers and staff at all our skilled nursing facilities are doing their very best under difficult circumstances to care for their residents, we are still seeing many cases and deaths among residents and staff in these facilities.”

Of the 942 people who have died from COVID-19 since the outbreak began, 92% had underlying conditions, Ferrer said Tuesday.

Thirty-seven percent of people who have died were Latino, 29% were white, 18% were Asian, 14% were African American, 1% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 1% identified with other races.

Ferrer said African Americans and people who live in poor communities are dying at the highest rates.

The death rate for African Americans is 13.2 per 100,000 people, she said Monday. The death rate is 9.8 for Latinos, 7.9 for Asians and 5.7 for whites.

In areas with a high proportion of people living in poverty, the death rate is 16.9 per 100,000 people — triple the rate of affluent communities.

Ferrer called the data “deeply disturbing” and said it speaks to a need for immediate actions in communities with disproportionately high death rates, including increased access to testing, healthcare and information about COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Ferrer announced an additional 597 confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the county’s total to 20,976. Countywide cases increased by 38.5% over the last week and 51% the week before. Ferrer has attributed the continued rise in cases to increasing testing capacity, the release of a backlog of test results and continued community spread.

Ferrer said Monday that she is hopeful the county will see a decrease in cases by mid-May and can begin to relax some stay-at-home restrictions. But she also cautioned that lifting orders prematurely could lead to a surge in new cases.

At an L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda Solis introduced a plan to reopen the county that included doubling the L.A. County Works job program and creating a permanent recovery fund. Businesses would have to continue to rely on telecommuting, according to Barger and Solis’ motion.

The motion also calls for the creation of an economic resilience task force and additional efforts to ensure the continuation of youth education.

On Tuesday, the city of Santa Monica issued an order pausing deadlines for development applications and extending the city’s one month limit on hotel stays.

The order signed pauses deadlines for reviewing and acting on planning applications, exercising rights under planning entitlements and expiration of building permits. The temporary suspension takes effect retroactively on March 16 and deadlines will resume once the city lifts its local emergency declaration.

The order permits hotels and motels to allow guests to stay for longer than 30 days, which is intended to support people isolating in hotels, according to a city press release.

It also waives a rule that prohibits city employees from accepting gifts for first responders and disaster workers employed by the city, which will allow them to take advantage of city-approved public or private discounts, specials and subsidies programs, including offers from restaurants.

“As we strive to respond to new and emerging needs in the COVID-19 environment, this supplemental order continues to respond to new needs by allowing our first responders and disaster workers to take advantage of city-approved benefits and ensures that projects approved through our planning process do not lose entitlements or permits due to the COVID-19 emergency,” Dilg said in a statement. “I want to thank all in our community for keeping each other safe by continuing to heed your Stay at Home and Safer at Home orders, especially over a warm and sunny weekend.”

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