Even as Long Beach saw far-and-away its worst week for COVID-19 related deaths, the city health officer Dr. Anissa Davis said there may be hope on the horizon.

“Cases in general in the Long Beach community do seem to be slowing somewhat,” she said at a press briefing Monday afternoon.

Davis didn’t point to any specific number, but over the past seven days, Long Beach reported on average 17 new cases per day. Over the prior seven-day span, Long Beach reported on average almost 18 new cases per day.

The past four days of results have all been below those averages, with 13 new cases Friday, 16 on Saturday, 5 on Easter Sunday and 13 on Monday.

“I do feel that the social distancing is really helping,” Davis said.

Health officials in Los Angeles County shared a similarly hopeful stat Monday: They reported just 239 new cases, the lowest number since March 26.

“And that’s a good thing,” the county’s public health director Barbara Ferrer said. But Ferrer warned Monday’s numbers can be artificially low because of delays in processing lab results over the weekend.

But those results stand in stark contrast with the number of COVID-19 deaths that recently spiked—at least in Long Beach.

Between March 9—when the city confirmed its first coronavirus case—and April 6, just three people with the disease died locally.

Since then, 11 people have died in the span of just seven days—including two deaths announced Monday.

Dr. Anissa Davis, health officer for the city of Long Beach, talks during a media conference along with Long Beach government and health officials about the COVID-19 virus In Long Beach on Thursday Feb. 27, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The grim news comes as the coronavirus has taken hold in local nursing homes and assisted living facilities, something Davis said is driving the sudden jump in deaths.

“The primary reason is because we’ve seen this illness hit really hard in vulnerable populations,” she said.

In all, 73 of Long Beach’s confirmed coronavirus cases have been linked to long-term care facilities, according to figures from the city. Ten of the city’s 14 deaths are associated with those facilities, authorities say.

Nursing homes and other care facilities are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks because the residents are in close proximity and many of them already have health problems.

Long Beach isn’t alone in facing a crisis in local nursing homes. In Los Angeles County as a whole, 92 residents at long-term care facilities have died, Ferrer said Monday. That’s 29% of the county’s total COVID-19 deaths, she said.

Local and state officials have rushed to assist staff and supply more equipment to the facilities.

“This is our highest priority,” Emily Holman, who heads the health department’s communicable disease program, previously told the Post.

But for those who’ve died, it’s already too late.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones,” Davis said Monday.

Avatar photo

Jeremiah Dobruck

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.