Long Beach logs over 1,100 new COVID-19 cases, including 4 police officers

Long Beach reported 1,109 new COVID-19 patients since yesterday, including four police officers—all assigned to the South Division—and three fire department employees.

The city also recorded four more deaths, bringing the total to 306 since the pandemic began.

The police officer cases come after the department had earlier reported an outbreak of 45 cases since early November. The department drew some criticism after a photo surfaced showing officers standing shoulder-to-shoulder with no masks at an event on Nov. 5.

Police said earlier they haven’t linked any of the rising COVID cases specifically to that gathering, but acknowledge that a lack of masks in police facilities appear to have contributed to the recent spread. To try to bring the outbreak under control, the department notified officers on Nov. 19 that they could be disciplined for not wearing masks.

The three fire department employees were assigned to the department’s headquarters, Station 15 and Station 6.

The overall case total reported Wednesday is in step with an alarming trend of rising cases in the city and throughout the region. Today’s total, however, includes a backlog due to state processing delays, the city said in a release.

Los Angeles County health officials today reported 131 deaths, not including the Long Beach figure, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began in March. The county also reported more than 21,400 new cases bringing the total to nearly 540,000. The county death total is now 8,568.

Following county trends, Long Beach coronavirus hospitalizations increased from 294 to 316 at the five medical facilities that serve the area. County hospitalizations reached 4,656 but health officials predict that figure may surge to 5,500-9,000 in the coming weeks, completely overwhelming hospitals.

Over the next month, county officials warn that the number of patients requiring ICU care could exceed the area’s 2,500-bed capacity by at least 1,000.

Local, county and state health officials continue to caution residents against gathering for the holidays, citing Thanksgiving gatherings as a major factor in the current surge.

“Things that were safe in the fall or that were safe even two months ago or one month ago are not safe today,” Christina Gahly, the director of the county Department of Health Services, said today. “Having just a very small birthday party for your child in a park is not safe. Having a very small holiday gathering is not safe. Getting together with a couple of friends at dinner is not safe.”

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.
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