Long Beach health officials on Monday reported the city’s lowest rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents since mid-November, just before the winter surge that led to stricter stay-at-home orders across the region.

Long Beach reported 14.8 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, well below a high of 158 reported on Jan. 15. The percentage of positive test results is now 4.9%, down from a high of roughly 17% in mid-January.

But before Long Beach can allow more businesses to reopen—including indoor dining at restaurants—its case rate would have to fall below seven per 100,000 residents.

Despite improving case numbers, the city is still reporting an elevated number of deaths. The city reported 11 more people died of the virus, however those numbers are from a three-day weekend. The city has now reported 808 total deaths, more than half of which have come in the last two months alone.

Since the pandemic began in March, the city has reported a total of 50,855 cases of the virus.

On a day the nation surpassed 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, Los Angeles County’s public health director on Monday paused for a moment of silence as she delivered a daily update on case numbers, noting the county is nearing 20,000 fatalities from the virus even as infection rates improve.

“I do want to start today’s update recognizing the heartbreaking loss of life from this deadly virus,” Barbara Ferrer said. “Half a million people have passed away across our nation, and here in L.A. County, we’re approaching the terrible milestone of 20,000 deaths. Let us remember and honor all those who have passed with a moment of silence.”

After pausing, Ferrer announced another 21 COVID-19 deaths in the county, reflecting a typically low number for Mondays due to reporting lags from the weekend.

Ferrer also announced 943 new cases—also a reduced number due to weekend delays in tallying numbers. As of Monday, a total of 1,181,469 cases have been confirmed in Los Angeles County since the start of the pandemic about a year ago.

Case numbers, infection rates and hospitalizations continue to tumble from the highs seen during the winter surge. Ferrer noted the current seven-day average of daily new cases has dropped to about 1,600, from an early January peak of more than 15,000 per day.

The county’s COVID transmission rate—or the average number of people a COVID patient infects with the virus—dropped to 0.76, down from 0.81 a week ago. The county currently estimates that one in every 730 residents, excluding those who are in quarantine or isolation, are infected with the virus and capable of spreading it. That’s an improvement from last week’s estimate of one in every 460.

City News Service contributed to this report.