COVID: Santa Monica’s local testing center will remain open for a few more months. Matthew Hall

Overview:

Figures show the national seven-day average of weekly new Covid-19 cases is up 16.2 percent.

Despite over 90 percent of the Santa Monica population having received at least one Covid-19 vaccination, the City Council urges everyone to continue having booster shots, since only 34 percent of Santa Monica residents have received one since September of last year.

“It’s really important for maintaining our immunity,” said Lindsay Call, Chief Resilience Officer for the Office of Emergency Management. “One out of three persons worldwide have not received a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccination. And so that leaves us vulnerable when it comes to future variants and the need to potentially pivot quickly if there is an immunity-evading variant that arises.”

Speaking at the Santa Monica City Council meeting on January 10, Call referred to the 287 Santa Monica residents that had passed away as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic along with the 25,000 that had been infected. As of December 31, 2022, the seven-day-adjusted average number of cases for Santa Monica is 123 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community level for Los Angeles County remains at medium.

The state of California is set to end its emergency order on February 28 and the City of Los Angeles is expected to do the same on February 1. However, as Call explained, the Council has received no word yet as to the plan regarding Los Angeles County.

“So at this point, it just decreases our likelihood that we’ll receive financial reimbursement from FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] for the ongoing Covid costs that we have,” she said.

“To date, we’ve received $1.5 million in reimbursement from FEMA and all those funds have been directed to the general fund. We have $3.5 million in projects that have been submitted to FEMA that were waiting on final approval,” Call said.

Meanwhile, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has implemented requirements for all California workplaces for the next two years, which includes free testing to all workers and Clover Park testing site will continue until at least the end of March.

Pfizer has suggested that Covid will reach an endemic state in 2024, but Call says that endemic diseases like the flu still require policy and prevention tools. “So, we’re not totally out of the woods yet,” she said.

President Biden once again renewed the Covid-19 public health emergency on Wednesday, which is a provision that gives the administration authorities to respond to the pandemic as cases are again on the rise.

First declared in January 2020 and renewed every 90 days since, the public health emergency has significantly changed how health services are delivered, enabling the emergency authorization of Covid vaccines, together with free testing and treatments. Moreover, it expanded Medicaid coverage to millions of people across the country, many of whom risk losing that coverage once the emergency ends.

Residents of Santa Monica looking for more information can call 211 or visit the 211 California website. Call the Public Health Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-540-0473 to request an in-home vaccination. If you have not received a booster since September 2022, you’re urged to get an updated booster. Visit MyTurn.ca.gov or call 1-833-422-4255 to find a provider.

scott.snowden@smdp.com

Scott Snowden

Scott Snowden started with the SMDP in 2023 with a long list of journalistic experience. He has written local and international investigative work in Forbes, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The...