Two Additional Malibu Residents Killed by COVID-19, Bringing Total Victims To Five

Dr. Lisa Benya (right) delivers a test to a patient at the drive-through testing center in early December 2020.

COVID-19 has killed two additional Malibu residents, according to data provided by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Wednesday, Dec. 16, bringing the total number of local victims up to five. 

The first local death caused by COVID-19 was reported in April 2020, just weeks after the disease was first reported in Malibu. Two additional deaths were recorded over the summer. The identities of the two most recent virus victims were not available. Of Malibu’s five victims, only the identity of the first—longtime resident John Bell—had been released publicly.

DPH spokespeople were not able to provide any demographic information for the five deceased Malibu residents such as age, race or sex, writing in an email to The Malibu Times that the county does not release that information out of a concern for privacy.

The report of two additional local victims came as Malibu was in the midst of the highest single-week increase in novel coronavirus cases to date, with 16 Malibuites testing positive for the virus from Dec. 15-21. The rate of new infections has been growing since early November and, while Malibu continues to see a far lower case rate than most other areas of Los Angeles County, the increase in new cases mirrors that of the county at large.

Drive-through coronavirus testing was being made available to the public in Malibu on an ongoing basis, with the next testing day Tuesday, Dec. 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Malibu City Hall. Those interested in receiving a coronavirus test must be in line by 2 p.m. and may register ahead of time at Tests are sponsored by the city and Malibu Medical Group.

The total number of Malibuites who have tested positive for the virus rose to 197 on Tuesday, Dec. 22, while across Malibu and the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains area of Los Angeles County, a total of 462 positive test results have been confirmed. 

Tuesday also continued record-breaking numbers of hospitalizations in LA County: 5,866 Angelenos were in the hospital fighting COVID-19. 

On the cusp of Christmas, state and county authorities were all but begging residents to stay home to avoid a catastrophic spread of a virus that has already killed 9,016 LA County residents, 23,265 Californians and 323,000 Americans.

“This is not the time to crowd at stores, to attend parties and gatherings, or to travel,” LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement provided by the health department. “If every person can find it in themselves to celebrate the meaning of the holidays by protecting each other from the virus, we have a chance to stop the surge.”