As anticipated by Long Beach health officials, coronavirus-related deaths have begun to increase following weeks of heightened hospitalizations. City officials reported three deaths for both Friday and Monday, the highest single-day body counts since April 15.

Overall, 969 Long Beach residents have died from COVID-19.

After falling to a low of 9 on June 11, hospitalizations in Long Beach have increased to a high of 143 on Aug. 16. As of Monday, 125 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 at Long Beach-area facilities. This is still significantly lower than the nearly 600 hospitalizations in January.

Throughout the pandemic, an increase in deaths lagged weeks behind an increase in hospitalizations, which lagged weeks behind an increase in new cases. Since the state’s reopening on June 15, new cases have been on the rise in Long Beach with the city’s seven-day positivity and daily new cases per 100,000 residents increasing exponentially from lows of 0.6% and 1, respectively, to 7.3% and 36 as of Monday.

Long Beach officials reported 499 new cases from Saturday, Sunday and Monday, bringing to the city past a new milestone of 60,215 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

A screenshot from the city’s COVID-19 dashboard.

On Aug. 24 of last year, total cases were 10,147 and total deaths had just surpassed 200.

County officials, meanwhile, reported 39 new deaths Tuesday for a total of 25,114. The county also reported 2,600 new cases. The county’s positivity rate is 2.8% and 1,724 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 countywide, including 26% in the ICU.

“We are glad the majority of businesses are following the Health Officer Order on masking and other common-sense, best practice recommendations,” LA County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a statement. “Getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible is essential, particularly in places where people are at the highest risk.

Over the past 18 months, COVID-19 has been the leading cause of death, surpassing coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and all other leading causes of death, Davis added.

In Long Beach, 73.4% of eligible residents—ages 12 and up—have been vaccinated against the virus as of Monday. The vaccination rate in the city and throughout the county is anticipated to increase in the coming weeks thanks to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer shot Monday, according to local leaders.

FDA approval of Pfizer shot should increase vaccinations, local leaders say

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.