Long Beach sees 2nd coronavirus death and first cases in long-term care facilities

A Long Beach woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions has died from COVID-19, marking the city’s second death from the fast-moving coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

In addition to the second death, the city on Wednesday reported that two cases of COVID-19 have been discovered in long-term care facilities, highlighting growing concerns that the virus could soon take hold in vulnerable populations in Long Beach nursing homes.

The cases are from two separate locations—one a skilled nursing facility and the other an assisted living facility, according to Dr. Annis Davis, Long Beach’s health officer. Davis did not provide the names of those facilities but said their populations are considered high risk for the coronavirus, which can be more deadly for older people and those with underlying health conditions.

City health officials are testing other residents at the facilities and helping look for anyone else there with symptoms, according to Davis. She said they’re also providing the facilities with personal protective equipment.

The virus has also impacted first responders, as three more Long Beach firefighters have now tested positive, brining the total to 18 firefighters.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia in a news conference on Wednesday said health officials have determined that most of the firefighter infections occurred at Fire Station 11 in North Long Beach. The station has since been sanitized and reopened.

“This is a serious number for our fire department,” Garcia said. There are about 400 firefighters total in the LBFD.

Overall, 139 people have tested positive in Long Beach, up from 123 cases on Tuesday. As of Wednesday, about 17 people were hospitalized in Long Beach for the coronavirus, Davis said.

Garcia said the city can expect to see a surge in cases as testing becomes more widely available.

“Would should expect that number to increase exponentially in the days and weeks ahead,” he said.

Garcia said the city and its health partners have tested close to 1,500 people and are working with the county to acquire more tests. The city has about 500 full test kits in stock with an additional 1,000 tests waiting for final pieces of equipment, he said.

Los Angeles County health officials on Wednesday reported over 500 new coronavirus cases, bringing the county’s total to more than 3,500. Across the entire county, 66 people have died.

Long Beach’s latest death follows another local woman in her 60s who died last month. Long Beach health officials said the most recent victim died at a hospital in Orange County. City officials said they couldn’t provide any further info about the woman or where she may have contracted the virus.

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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].