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Coronavirus Cases See Weekly Drop in Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

April 13, 2020 -- The number of coronavirus cases in Santa Monica dropped to 24 last week, while Los Angeles County surpassed the number of deaths reported during the severe 2017-18 flu season.

There were four new cases confirmed in Santa Monica on Saturday and Sunday, bringing the total to 92, according to data from the LA County Public Health Department.

The number of cases last week dropped by three, from 27 the previous week, the data show.

The other 41 Santa Monica cases were reported between March 17 and March 29, with 20 cases confirmed during one weekend.

Countywide, the number of coronavirus cases continued dropping, with a total of 779 new cases reported on Saturday and Sunday, health officials said.

It marked the lowest two-day total since cases began spiking across the County two weeks ago, according to the data.

But the number of deaths reached a high of 31 on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths in LA County to 296 since the first coronavirus death was reported on March 11.

That surpassed the 289 deaths reported during the severe 2017-18 flu season, according to the Health Department's "Influenza Watch."

Nationwide, a total of 22,116 people have died of the coronavirus since the first U.S. death was reported in Seattle on February 29, according to statistics updated at 6:38 a.m. Monday by the Washington Post.

The 2017-18 flu season -- one of the deadliest in decades -- is estimated to have taken some 80,000 lives nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

During previous winters, flu-related deaths in the U.S. ranged from about 12,000 in 2011-12 to an estimated 56.000 thousand the following winter.

However, the coronavirus is far deadlier than the common flu, with the current mortality rate at 4 percent, compared to about 0.1 percent for the flu, according to an analysis of mortality rates by Johns Hopkins University.

While both viruses can cause similar symptoms, there is no vaccine for Covid-19.

Of the 296 coronavirus-related deaths in LA County, 83 percent had underlying health conditions, according to health officials.

Serious underlying medical conditions include "chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis and liver disease," according to the CDC.

Underlying conditions are also prevalent in those who are "immunocompromised," according to the Center's website.

They include "cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications," the CDC said.

Minority populations, especially black communities, suffer from a disproportionate rate of underlying health conditions and have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus in the nation.

LA County health officials have collected information on race and ethnicity for 240 of the deceased. Of those, 33 percent were Hispanic and 19 percent black.

Hispanics make up an estimated 48.6 percent of the County's population, while blacks account for about 9 percent, according to 2019 population estimates by the U.S. Census.

Of the deaths reported by race, 32 percent of the deceased were white and 19 percent Asian.

White residents accounted for 26.1 percent of the population, while Asians made up 15.4 percent, according to the Census.

To date, 2,246 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus -- or 24 percent -- have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

The number of people tested has jumped from 29,000 a week ago Friday to more than 47,000 on Sunday, health officials said.

Of those tested, 14 percent have tested positive, officials said.

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