Like the rest of Los Angeles County, Long Beach is experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, according to the city’s health department. The numbers, however, are much less severe than previous increases.

The city reported 269 cases from Aug. 18-24, a 60% increase from the week prior, according to department spokesperson Jennifer Rice Epstein. Since the city stopped posting regular updates on the virus on June 28, the department has only tallied 1,056 new cases for a total of 165,753 as of Aug. 24—but that figure is skewed.

“Given the proliferation of home tests, we cannot provide an exact count of current cases,” Rice Epstein said. “Summer travel and returning to school may be contributing to the rise.”

Countywide, the daily average number of coronavirus cases has risen steadily for five weeks—from 152 on July 5 to 384 on Aug. 16.

Despite the rise, Rice Epstein noted, “there is no expectation of a new mask mandate at this time.” She did, however, say wearing a “high-quality” mask in crowded indoor spaces would help reduce the spread.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 also are on the rise, Rice Epstein said, “but current levels are still much lower compared to summer 2022.”

During the week of Aug. 18-24, 90 people were hospitalized in the Long Beach area—up from 67 the week before. According to the county, hospitalizations remain at near-record lows, but older residents continue to be hospitalized at much higher rates than other age groups.

The city’s last public update on the virus indicated 1,422 coronavirus-related deaths. Just shy of two months later, that figure has grown to 1,461.

(Coronavirus death reporting is often months behind as various agencies work to determine the official cause of death and communicate their findings.)

All other metrics city staff use to track coronavirus prevalence have increased sharply since the end of June but remain far below their peaks. The cumulative seven-day case rate more than doubled from 22.7 to 48, while the seven-day test positivity rate jumped from 7.8% to 14.2%.

The city’s daily cases per 100,000 residents, meanwhile, increased 427% to 6.85 over the past two months.

The new BA.2.86 variant has not been detected in Long Beach, or the county at large, according to Rice Epstein. Instead, the EG.5 and XBB.1.5 variants, which are related to omicron, are circulating in the area, she said.

Aside from masking in crowds, other common-sense guidelines, Rice Epstein said, include staying up to date on vaccines, staying home when sick, getting tested before and after travel or when feeling ill, seeking treatment if you contract the virus, maximizing indoor ventilation and opting for outdoor gatherings when possible, and washing hands often.

“We will be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future,” Rice Epstein said, noting that case increases have been typical in the fall and winter, similar to the flu, as well as the summer. “However, it may take a few more years to determine the seasonality of COVID-19 with certainty.”

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