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Santa Monica is Closely Monitoring the Coronavirus

February 27, 2020 3:37 PM
by Rick Cole

Santa Monica is Closely Monitoring the Coronavirus

This was published Feb. 27. For the latest information about the coronavirus, please visit or

As of today, coronavirus (nCoV 2019) cases have been reported in 47 countries and every continent except Antarctica.  It’s disrupted the world economy and rocked global markets.  San Francisco has declared a public health emergency and California has recorded its first case not directly related to foreign travel.

So coronavirus is almost certainly coming to Santa Monica.  What can we do? By all accounts, the two most sensible and impactful things we can all do are: keep calm and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

Of course, it turns out that this is good advice for every flu season – and conventional flu strains account for far more deaths every year than this new viral strain.  Even if we’ve been spared this year, we all know friends, relatives and co-workers who’ve been down with the flu.

The spread of the coronavirus underscores our increased interconnectedness and why we are not immune to a global pandemic.  Every day, over two-thirds of our population who work leave Santa Monica for their jobs outside of town. They pass 90,000 commuters who are coming to work in our offices, stores, restaurants and other businesses.  Nine million people come here annually from outside our region and an even greater number of local neighbors come here every day for school, church, recreation, healthcare, culture and every other draw in our remarkable 8.3 square miles.

"Santa Monica will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with LA County Department of Public Health to implement all recommended public health measures as directed."

So by ourselves, there is nothing we can do to limit, let alone stop, coronavirus at the border of Santa Monica. Which is why we are working closely with the County of Los Angeles and through them with the Federal and State governments and our healthcare institutions to coordinate an effective regional response.

Our County has a population of ten million people.  As of today, there has been one confirmed coronavirus case in LA County that originated from an international flight. The patient was immediately placed in treatment and there have been no secondary cases in LA County from this case, and no new cases in LA County in a month.

Measures are being implemented by Federal, State, and County partners to prevent the spread of the disease. Focuses include monitoring those who traveled to countries with widespread disease, facilitating testing of all suspected cases, providing direction to healthcare providers across LA County, and disseminating accurate information to the general public and government stakeholders. 

Protecting the City of Santa Monica’s public and staff health and safety is the City’s priority.

Watch this LA County Department of Public Health video to learn the facts about the coronavirus. 

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with LA County Department of Public Health to implement all recommended public health measures as directed. Santa Monica has an all-hazards plan for all emergency events and has plans in place for pandemic events. We are actively moving to be ready to implement them as the situation warrants, including contingency plans for canceling events, curtailing public exposure and altering work schedules and City services. Santa Monica has been participating in weekly conference calls with the Department of Public Health and other government stakeholders to ensure guidance is quickly adopted.

Which brings us back to the bottom line of what you can do: keep calm and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

Each of us has an active role in stopping the spread of communicable diseases, including the coronavirus and seasonal flu. Staff are strongly recommended to stay home if you or family members are sick with a slight fever, cough, and/or abdominal issues. It is also recommended that each person remember to: 

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, including before eating
  • Cover sneezes/coughs, appropriately dispose of soiled tissues, and wash hands afterward
  • Avoid close contact with those who are ill  

While wearing a mask may seem like a good idea, experts say they are largely ineffective at keeping you from being infected and in any case, they have the most value for trained healthcare workers and emptying out the limited global supply for individual use is actually counter-productive.

This morning, state health officials and Governor Gavin Newsom provided a public briefing on the state’s response to novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. 

More good advice that applies well beyond the potential arrival of the coronavirus: you can help your household prepare for any emergency, including a potential coronavirus emergency, by ensuring their families have a disaster kit at home with seven days of household essentials including food, water, sanitation supplies, and basic medications. Visit our Office of Emergency Management’s website to get started.

If you would like to learn more information about nCoV 2019 and good health practices available from trusted health system resources are here:

Have a great weekend, and remember, keep calm and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. As always, I welcome your feedback!

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