Long Beach on Wednesday reported 27 additional deaths from COVID-19, but other indicators including hospitalizations and case rates continued to inch downward as health officials were cautious that another surge could yet come.

Overall, Long Beach has seen 562 fatalities. The high number of deaths reported Wednesday includes a backlog from the weekend, officials said.

The city’s seven-day positive case rate dropped from 131 to 124 people per 100,000 residents, while the rate of those testing positive was 13.9% down from 14.2% on Tuesday.

The city reported 504 people hospitalized for COVID in five area hospitals, down from 511 the previous day. Long Beach also reported that another police officer in the North Division has tested positive for the virus and was recovering at home.

The number of new coronavirus infections may have peaked and begun to decline in Los Angeles County, but they are still dauntingly high for hospitals that have been overwhelmed with patients, county health officials said Wednesday.

The county recorded just 6,492 new infections, much lower than the average daily caseload of 15,000 as of Jan. 8 and 10,000 as of Jan. 15, according to county public health Director Barbara Ferrer.

She warned though, that it’s too early to tell if this is truly a decline in the astronomical surge that began in November or a gap in reporting caused by holiday closures at testing sites and a recent move to convert Dodger Stadium to a mass vaccination clinic.

Nevertheless, she said, “we are very hopeful that the actions taken by many are starting to work.”

Hospitalizations, too, have eased slightly to 7,253 from over 8,000 in recent weeks, and they’ve been dropping by 50 to 100 patients every day, according to Ferrer.

“And that’s really good news,” Ferrer said, “But to be honest, having 7,300 patients with COVID-19 across our hospital care system is far more than our hospital system can actually manage over the long term.”

She emphasized that the number of new cases must decrease substantially before the health care system is in the clear.

“So the end is not yet in sight,” Ferrer said. “With the high number of daily cases, hundreds more people will require hospitalizations every week.”

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.