Long Beach and Los Angeles County again set records for new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with one in four people in Long Beach now testing positive for the virus.

The city reported 1,720 new cases, with a positivity rate of about 24.6%—up from 3% just two weeks ago. The city has reported 6,274 cases this week alone, compared to 8,309 throughout all of December.

New daily cases rose to over 204 per 100,000 residents, shattering the previous record of 170 set Thursday.

Prior to the current surge, the highest positivity rate and daily cases in Long Beach were 17.8% and 141.6, respectively, both set in January 2021. The positivity rate fell below 1% and the daily cases to a low of one by June of last year.

Los Angeles County on Friday, meanwhile, reported 43,712 new cases and 28 virus-related fatalities.

Throughout the pandemic, the city has reported 81,729 cases, and the county has reported a cumulative total of 1,887,526 infections.

Along with the increased case numbers came the anticipated rise in hospitalizations figures, with state figures showing 2,902 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday. That was up from 2,661 on Thursday.

Of the hospitalized patients, 391 were being treated in intensive care units, up from 352 a day earlier.

Long Beach reported no new deaths, but hospitalizations continue to rise steadily, reaching 258 Friday compared to 235 the day before. Friday’s hospitalizations mark a more than 500% increase from mid-December.

According to health department spokeswoman Jennifer Rice Epstein, more than 66% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated as of Friday. Additionally, nearly 99% of those hospitalized with the virus have not received their booster, Epstein added.

More than 70% of eligible Long Beach residents aged 5 and up are fully vaccinated, according to the city’s coronavirus dashboard, including 77.4% of adults.

The rising number of hospitalizations throughout the county is generating concern. Health care facilities are finding themselves increasingly short-staffed, in part because of COVID infections among health care workers.

According to the county Department of Public Health, 973 infections among health care workers were reported over the past week, a jump of 47% from the prior period. That rise comes despite the relatively high rate of vaccinations among health care workers—showing the power of the omicron variant of the virus to infect even vaccinated residents, although they are less likely to become severely ill.

The state is requiring all health care workers in the state to receive a booster dose of vaccine by Feb. 1. Those who do not receive the booster must be tested twice weekly.

“Keeping health care workers safe is critical to maintaining functionality across our health care facilities when surges lead to staffing shortages and rising rates of hospitalizations,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Across multiple healthcare settings, our health care personnel have given their all and been fully vaccinated at high levels for many months.”

According to county figures released Thursday, of the more than 6.4 million fully vaccinated people in the county, 199,314 have tested positive for the virus, for a rate of 3.1%, while 3,348 have been hospitalized, for a rate of 0.05%. A total of 625 fully vaccinated people have died, for a rate of 0.01%.

The testing-positivity rate, however, may be artificially low due to the number of people who use take-home tests and don’t report the results.   Overall, 79% of eligible county residents aged 5 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 71% are fully vaccinated.

Of the county’s overall population of 10.3 million people, 75% have received at least one dose, and 67% are fully vaccinated.

City News Service contributed to this report. 

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