COVID-19 Case Trends in Los Angeles and Santa Monica: 13 September 2020

It has been a few weeks since I have published case rate graphs for our local area. Presented below, I have graphed together LA County numbers (in blue) and Santa Monica numbers (in red).

As coronavirus began community spread in March and April, the County as a whole fared more poorly than Santa Monica. This became particularly clear in the late June to early July acceleration and peak when case rates were up to 6 times higher in LA County as compared to Santa Monica.

Since that time, however, an interesting phenomenon has occurred – Los Angeles County cases are dropping steeply with a clear downward trend. On the other hand, Santa Monica numbers are fairly steady – emblematic of a ‘smoldering’ epidemic.

The danger with these steady numbers is the risk for a geometric explosion in cases. Much like the embers of a wildfire that persist, a slight change can cause this to flare up again. You need to look no further than the case rates in the County for the month of May. County officials at that time pushed for reopening erroneously thinking that steady case rates were a sign of an outbreak under control. We were then left with the disastrous effects seen in June and July.

Data for the week ending 9/11 are not yet available, but it appears that Los Angeles County and Santa Monica are on case rate curves that will soon cross. The last time that Santa Monica had a higher case rate than Los Angeles County was the last week of March.

Neither the County nor Santa Monica are close to a more wide reopening according to the latest State guidelines. We would need to decrease to less than 1 new daily case per 100,000 population.

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