While COVID-19 cases continue to surge across all of Los Angeles, Santa Monica’s city services have been relatively unscathed despite cases across several departments.

City Hall has reported 69 cases across all departments in the last week with six in SMPD, 14 in SMFD and 16 in the Department of Transportation.

Officials said the City continues to strictly follow all LA County Department of Public Health (Public Health) workplace prevention protocols, both in worksites and when staff are working with the public.

“This has not impacted the City’s ability to provide for the public’s safety and services. Early in the pandemic, essential service City departments developed staff contingency plans to manage staff COVID-19 absenteeism,” said Santa Monica Public Information Officer Constance Farrell. “These plans have not been activated during the current case increase.”

Public Health has said cases have soared to the highest level since the start of the pandemic but vaccines continue to provide protection against severe illness. New rules have also been implemented requiring more protective measures for workers across all industries.

“Community spread of COVID-19 and the high contagiousness of the Omicron variant has caused some City staff to fall ill,” said Farrell. “Modifications have been made to the City’s already stringent infection control measures to proactively prevent COVID-19 spread in the workplace, such as upgrading masks to medical-grade personal protective equipment citywide and implementing physically distancing and augmented testing in impacted areas.”

In roughly the same time frame, more than 500 LAPD officers and other police employees and nearly 300 firefighters were off-duty due to COVID exposures.

Countywide, although COVID hospitalizations have been rising rapidly, many of the COVID-positive patients hospitalized are seeking care for a non-COVID health issue according to County officials.

Data analyzed by Public Health showed that in early November, 75% of hospitalized patients who tested positive for COVID were hospitalized for medical problems related to the COVID diagnosis, the percentage of people hospitalized for COVID illness has declined now to 45%, meaning that more than half of COVID-positive hospitalized patients are in the hospital for non-COVID related illness. While any Covid patient might pose a strain to the system, the current surge suggests there may be fewer COVID-positive patients requiring ICU care and ventilators than last winter.


Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...