City and county officials have been saying for weeks that more young people are testing positive and being hospitalized for COVID-19, but they said for the first time today that the median age of new cases has dropped from 52 in early April to 33 now.

Dr. Anissa Davis, the city health officer, said that 60% of the cases in the month of July occurred in people under the age of 40, up from 41% in April.

“While we don’t know exactly all of the reasons why the cases in younger people are increasing, we do know that many infected people are indicating that they attended a social gathering in the week or so before getting sick: birthday parties, barbecues, holiday gatherings, etcetera,” Davis said.

Los Angeles County also reported similar data, saying on Sunday that most new COVID-19 patients were under the age of 40.

The latest numbers stand in dramatic contrast to the pandemic’s earlier months, when most of the confirmed cases involved older patients, who were considered most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

On Friday, city officials reported the first death of a Long Beach resident who was in his 20s. The unidentified resident had underlying health conditions, but officials did not report any other information about the individual.

They also reported one new death on Monday, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the city to 159. Mayor Robert Garcia said during the community briefing that COVID-19 is still the leading cause of death in the city.

The death rate in Long Beach has also remained stable, but Davis said that it’s a lagging indicator: usually the number of cases will first go up, then the number of hospitalizations, followed by an increase in deaths. This is because it can take weeks between testing positive and dying.

In total, 6,522 have tested positive in Long Beach, up from 6,334 reported on Friday. The city reported 946 new cases last week.

Garcia said that the city’s positivity rate is down from 15.2% last week to 14.1% for a 7-day average.

“That’s a good sign but still a lot higher than we want it to be,” he said.

Davis noted that while hospital capacity remains stable, Long Beach has nearly three times the number of hospitalizations than it did a month ago. Officials reported 104 Long Beach residents are currently hospitalized as of Monday. The number for each date usually increases as the health department gets more information from residents hospitalized in other jurisdictions.

Hospital capacity has remained at about 60% for the last month. When asked how that was possible when the number of hospitalizations has increased so dramatically, Davis said that it was likely because hospitals were managing their non-COVID patients by postponing elective surgeries and surging up in their capacity.

For the fourth time in the past week, county officials reported a record number of COVID-19 patients in area hospitals: a total of 2,232 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus as of Monday, up from Sunday’s record number of 2,216. Health officials said 26% of those patients were in intensive care.

The county announced another nine deaths due to the virus, although one of those fatalities was reported previously by health officials in Pasadena. Fatality numbers announced by the county are often lower on Mondays due to lags in weekend reporting. The new deaths lifted the countywide total to 4,104.

County officials also reported another 3,160 new cases. Public health director Barbara Ferrer said the average daily positivity rate among people tested for the virus over the past seven days was about 8%—above the statewide rate of 7.2%.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ValerieOsier