Long Beach reports 13 more COVID-19 deaths and close to 1,300 new cases

City officials announced 13 COVID-19 deaths Monday for a new total of 460 since the onset of the pandemic, though officials noted the number may be higher due to reporting delays.

Four of the new deaths are associated with long-term care facilities; a total of 218 people affiliated with these facilities have now died since March.

The city also reported 1,265 new coronavirus cases and a record 578 hospitalizations at the area’s five hospitals.

After six weeks of steady increases, Long Beach’s seven-day positivity rate dipped slightly from 17.8% Thursday to 17.2%. However, the city’s daily cases per 100,000 residents continue to climb, reaching a new high of 141.5 Monday.

The city said it expects backlogged deaths and cases will be reported in the coming days.

At the county level, officials announced  137 deaths for a total of 12,387. New deaths reported Sunday—166—and Monday mark a drastic decrease from the previous five days, which each surpassed 200 fatalities, including a single-day record of 318 on Jan. 8.

Hospitalizations countywide have stabilized just under 8,000 mark. County officials Monday announced 7,910 hospitalizations, with 22% in the ICU.

“Hospitals are on the brink of triaging care, which means decisions will have to be made on who could receive access to scarce resources,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said during a press conference Monday. “The situation is more dire than ever before.”

Health officials are still anticipating a fresh surge of cases, hospitalizations and, ultimately, deaths in the coming days and weeks following Christmas and New Year gatherings.

County health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday that, on average, 10 LA County residents test positive for COVID-19 every minute. Of those 15,000 or so people, 10-12% will require hospitalization and more than 1% will die, she said.

“The damaging impact to our families and our local hospitals from this surge is the worst disaster our county has experienced for decades,” Ferrer said. “And, as with other terrifying situations, the end of this surge only happens when more people and more businesses take control and do the right thing.”

The county’s seven-day death average has increased 1,125% since early November, Ferrer said, a figure that should not be understated amid slight dips. Homeless populations as well as prison and jail inmates are particularly vulnerable, she said. Average hospitalizations also have increased 884% over the last two months.

More than 500,000 county residents have been tested, with a positivity rate now at 18%.

County health officials urge the public to adhere to guidelines that have been in place for weeks to slow the spread and reduce infection rates.

“Dying of COVID in the hospital means dying alone. Families are sharing their final goodbyes on tablets and mobile phones,” Solis said. “One of the more heartbreaking conversations that our healthcare workers share is about these last words when children apologize to grandparents and parents for bringing COVID into their homes and getting them sick. These apologies are some of the last words loved ones will ever hear as they die alone.”

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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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