A digital memorial honoring the more than 1,000 Long Beach residents who have died of COVID-19 will be created by the city with the help of the general public, officials announced Monday.

The city is collecting photographs from friends and family of people who have died of the virus, which will then be compiled, along with written messages, into a memorial on the city’s website.

“These people were our friends, neighbors and loved ones,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in the announcement. “My heart goes out to every single person who has lost a loved one to COVID-19.”

The digital tribute is separate from the physical memorial that will be erected in the city. The visioning process for the physical memorial is underway and expected to take six to 12 months. The digital tribute will be presented to the committee tasked with planning the memorial.

Submissions for the digital memorial can be made on the city’s website until Oct. 11.

On Friday, city health officials reported three more deaths from the virus, bringing the city’s total fatalities to 1,000 since the initial outbreak in March 2020. The city reported two more deaths Monday.

The coronavirus has been the leading cause of death in Long Beach for the last 18 months, according to health department data. By comparison, the seasonal flu has killed only 58 Long Beach residents over the last decade.

The second most common cause of death since March is all cancers, which have killed 986 people combined, according to health officials. Other leading causes of death include coronary heart disease (835), Alzheimer’s (282), stroke (270)  and chronic lower respiratory disease (208).

Of the 1,000 people who have died from the virus, about 30% were under the age of 65.

City health officials reported 131 new cases Monday. In recent weeks, COVID-19 indicators have been trending down. As of Monday, the seven-day positivity was down to 2.2% from 8.6% on July 22. Similarly, the daily new cases per 100,000 residents is down to 19.5 from an Aug. 11 high of 36.9.

The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus continues to decrease, and is now down to 71 in area hospitals.

At the county level, officials reported 996 new cases and six deaths on Monday. Countywide, there are 1,053 people hospitalized with COVID-19. The county’s positivity rate is down to 1.2%.

“These are challenging times and the future trajectory of the pandemic is not certain,” county Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Nonetheless, we do know that the vaccines save lives and reduce transmission; these are essential prerequisites to moving forward with our recovery.”

In Long Beach, 76.4% of eligible residents 12 and up have received at least one dose of the vaccine, as of Monday. Only 67% have been fully inoculated against the virus.

‘The single largest loss of life’: COVID-19 has now killed 1,000 Long Beach residents

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