Faced with mounting coronavirus deaths linked to long-term care facilities, Long Beach officials shifted course Friday, pledging to begin testing all individuals in nursing homes and to publicly release more detailed information on individual facilities.
The effort comes as cities and states across the country have pushed for greater transparency as nursing homes continue to be epicenters for the fast moving virus.
In Long Beach, more than 82% of deaths are connected to long-term care facilities. As of Wednesday, the city said that 24 of 29 total fatalities have been linked to long-term care facilities.
Overall, the city reported on Friday that it has had 540 positive test results, with 164 of them confirmed among residents and staff at eight long-term care facilities.
This week, Los Angeles County, where roughly 40% of the county’s deaths have been linked to skilled nursing homes, announced a plan to test all individuals in those facilities, even if they have shown no coronavirus symptoms.
Mayor Robert Garcia said during a Friday press briefing that Long Beach will also begin testing all residents and staffers in long-term care facilities. “It’s the right thing to do,” Garcia said, “especially since most of our [fatality] cases are at these centers.”
Los Angeles County health officials this week also began reporting the number of cases and deaths at individual facilities, which Long Beach’s health department has not done, despite requests by the Post.
Last week, the California Department of Public Health began releasing data on infection rates in long-term care facilities. The list does not include deaths.
On Friday, Mayor Garcia said the city also will begin, in stages, to release more detailed information on outbreaks in individual facilities, rather than simply providing cumulative numbers for affected locations.
The first information released by the city listed five long-term care facilities with infections among residents and staff members.
The numbers show that Broadway by the Sea, 2725 E. Broadway, had by far the highest number of cases, with nearly 70% of its residents and staff infected at some point.
Nicole Francois, a spokesperson for Broadway By the Sea, on Friday said both the city and the state had visited the facility and “affirmed our infection protocols and plans to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. We are in regular communication with both agencies,” she said.
Francois said the facility’s plans and protocols are also consistent with the most current CDC guidelines.
“In regard to all passings related to COVID-19,” she said, “we grieve with all people who are dealing with loss.”
Unlike those publicly provided by Los Angeles County, the numbers released by Long Beach Friday did not include fatalities that may have occurred at individual locations. Mayor Garcia said he favors having the Long Beach health department release that information in the next phase of disclosures.
“We’ve been pushing for as much information as possible,” Garcia said. “And certainly if L.A. County is doing that, we want to make sure that we’re doing that.”