Long Beach COVID cases rose by 700 last week; Officials urge residents to follow health guidelines

Long Beach and Los Angeles County could be heading into dangerous territory if people don’t start taking health guidelines seriously, officials said Monday as new coronavirus cases reached record highs.

“Please, please do your part,” said Long Beach health director Kelly Colopy during the Monday coronavirus update. She asked residents and local businesses to wear face coverings, physically distance and follow health protocols.

Long Beach reported a total of 757 new cases since last Monday—in one week. By contrast, the first three weeks of June averaged about 329 new cases each week. In the entire month of May, the city saw about 1,280 new cases.

Officials last week noted that it was primarily younger people who were accounting for the many of the new cases. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered bars in LA County and six other counties to close in response to the rise in cases. Colopy warned bars may just be the first step if businesses and residents continue to not follow the health guidelines.

County health officials said at a Monday briefing that most businesses checked by the county were not in compliance with health orders, most notably bars and restaurants.

“We are not reopening because the virus is gone, but by now, we all know that safer at home is not sustainable,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director.

Long Beach’s positivity rate is at 10.8%, a jump from 8.4% last week and the 6% range weeks ago. This means that 10.8% of the people being tested for COVID-19 are positive cases.

In addition, five more people have died from coronavirus in Long Beach since Friday, bringing the total number of deaths in the city to 130.

A total of 79 people are currently hospitalized for the virus in Long Beach, officials said. But while hospitalizations are still relatively flat in the city, they are rising drastically in the county.

County officials reported 2,203 new cases, the largest number of new cases ever reported. County officials also reported the highest number of hospitalizations ever reported, at 1,710 people. That number was at about 1,300 at the beginning of June.

In just two weeks, the county has seen an increase of 27% in hospitalizations, said Barbara Ferrer, the county director of Public Health. Orange County is also seeing a large jump in hospitalizations.

“We weren’t expecting this steep of an increase this quickly,” Ferrer said, noting that the county is heading toward where it was at its highest point in April.

Ghaly warned that the county could run out of Intensive Care Units quickly at this rate, but noted that hospitals do still have surge capacity.

City officials also announced two fire department employees at stations 3 and 7 and two police department employees at police headquarters and North Division have tested positive for the virus.

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.