Long Beach passes 30,000 COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations continue to surge

More than 30,000 people in Long Beach have now contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic as the city continues to see record numbers of hospitalizations.

Long Beach on Monday reported a record 482 COVID-19 patients in the five nearby hospitals, up from 400 on Wednesday. Long Beach did not report numbers over the Christmas holiday or the weekend but revealed on Monday that an additional 17 people have died from COVID-19 since Wednesday for a total of 358 fatalities.

In all, the city has seen 2,881 new COVID-19 cases since its last update on Wednesday, pushing the overall number to 30,600. The rate of positive cases compared to the number of people being tested has climbed to nearly 15%.

Los Angeles County also continued to hit record hospitalization numbers on Monday, with 6,914 people hospitalized.

The dire situation means the state will almost certainly extend the regional stay-at-home order with a formal announcement expected Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said. The order could have expired as soon as today if the load on hospitals had subsided, but as of Monday, about half of all the staffed hospital beds in the county were filled with COVID patients, including two-thirds of intensive care unit beds.

Hospital emergency departments remained overwhelmed, with medical centers on Sunday spending 83% of their operating hours diverting ambulances to other hospitals due to lack of space or staffing, according to authorities.

The county announced an additional 73 COVID deaths on Monday, and health officials said they are working to confirm an additional 432 fatalities over the past few days that were not initially tallied because of the holiday weekend and an internet outage that affected reporting.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted that over the past week, a person died in Los Angeles County from COVID every 10 to 15 minutes.

Health officials on Monday feared that people traveling over the holiday weekend will lead to a surge of cases on top of a surge from Thanksgiving.

And while it will take several weeks to determine if the Christmas holiday will lead to another surge in infections, officials said weekend images of crowded airports, freeways and shopping centers paint a grim picture of what lies ahead.

“The alarm was pulled over a month ago but people did not heed that warning,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said during a press briefing Monday, highlighting holiday travel and gatherings. “Just like the sound of ambulance sirens, we can’t drown this out.”

Despite repeated warnings, more people traveled through airports nationwide in the week leading up to Christmas (7,189,521) than the week leading up to Thanksgiving (6,859,882), according to U.S. Transportation Security Administration data.

The number represents a 62% decrease in Christmas travel compared to the same time last year.

Meanwhile, Orange County continued to set COVID-19 hospitalization records on Monday, topping 2,000 patients for the first time.

The county is reporting 2,031 hospitalized patients, with 453 in intensive care. No new coronavirus fatalities have been logged, leaving the death toll at 1,846.

Long Beach also reported on Monday that four public-facing employees in the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department have tested positive. All four are recovering at home.

City News Service contributed to this report

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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