13 more Long Beach police employees test positive for COVID-19; one is hospitalized

The city reported 597 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, including 13 public-facing police employees across multiple divisions. One is being treated at an area hospital while the other 12 are recovering at home.

Some of the officers and other police employees worked as recently as Wednesday, according to the city announcement. At least 85 Long Beach police employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic as infections in the department surged in November and December, but an updated total was not immediately available.

Thursday was the first time the city announced a police employee was hospitalized for COVID-19.

Area hospitals continue being inundated with patients as hospitalizations continue to climb, now at a record 577. These trends are consistent with what is happening countywide.

“There are just too many people spreading the virus, too many people sick and hospitalized, and each person that dies is one too many,” Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for the county, said in a statement.

The city’s seven-day case rate per 100,000 residents continues to climb after dipping earlier this week, now up to 133—the second highest rate reported since the onset of the pandemic. The city’s seven-day testing positivity rate was 17.8%, an unsurprising new record as it has been steadily climbing every day since the end of November.

At the county level, health officials announced 218 new deaths and 19,719 new cases. The total number of fatalities across the county is now 11,545. Hospitalizations countywide are at a record 8,098, an increase of 75 from Wednesday, with 20% of these patients in the intensive care unit. The total number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased by just 550 since Jan. 3.

Across the county, more than 1 in 5 of the people tested for COVID-19 were positive for the coronavirus.

“Every day we report a large number of people newly infected with COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “It is like a reset on the clock for when we can get back to our recovery journey.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that the 13 police employees were not necessarily sworn officers.

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.