Health officials were urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and get their booster shots ahead of the Memorial Day holiday as case rates inch higher from new variants.

Long Beach over the past week has seen some of the highest COVID-19 case rates since the winter surge in February, but hospitalizations and deaths have so far remained low as health officials credit the county’s high vaccine rate.

The city’s rate of positive cases has increase nearly 75% in the past two weeks, inching up from 3.3% on April 26 to 5.8% on Monday, for some of the highest rates since February. On Monday, Councilmember Suzie Price announced she had tested positive for the virus.

Long Beach’s cumulative seven-day case rate has also increased to 143.1 cases per 100,000 residents on Monday, up from 83.8 two weeks ago.

Overall, the city reported 133 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, and one death in the past two weeks. About 14 people were hospitalized in Long Beach area hospitals, a much lower rate compared to more than 350 people hospitalized in January during the surge.

Los Angeles County reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday while the overall virus-related death toll has reached 32,000.  

Health officials have noted that while COVID case numbers have risen sharply in recent weeks, hospitalization numbers have held relatively steady, and daily deaths have continued declining.

On Monday, the county Department of Public Health pointed to the effectiveness of COVID vaccines for preventing severe illness from virus infection.

“The lower numbers of hospitalizations and deaths reflect, in large part, the protection provided by the vaccines against the variants,” according to the county Department of Public Health. “For the week ending April 22, unvaccinated people were four times more likely to be hospitalized compared to residents who were fully vaccinated, but not boosted, and five times more likely to be hospitalized than those fully vaccinated and boosted.”

Over the past week, the county has averaged four virus-related deaths per day, a 72% decrease from a month ago. The average daily number of virus-positive hospital patients averaged 245, roughly the same as it was a month ago.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Monday urged people to consider getting vaccinated and boosted ahead of the Memorial Day holiday and subsequent summer gatherings.

“For these occasions to not contribute to the increasing spread of Omicron variants, we encourage attendees to take sensible precautions that will protect you and those around you, including staying outside as much as possible and wearing a mask when indoors,” she said in a statement. “And given the high number of asymptomatic individuals that are infected, testing before gathering with others, especially if gathering indoors, is an effective and practical safety measure that can easily prevent the spread of the virus.”

City News Service contributed to this report