Rise in COVID cases pushes Long Beach into ‘medium’ range for coronavirus infections

Increasing levels of COVID-19 rates across Los Angeles County have moved Long Beach from “low” to “medium” virus-activity levels, prompting city officials to urge the public to once again use safety precautions such as wearing masks indoors and continuing to get vaccinated.

According to data from the city, as of Friday, there have been 205.7 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. That was propelled in part by 329 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday. That’s compared to only 19 new daily cases reported about a month ago.

While Long Beach has seen some of its highest COVID-19 case rates since the winter, hospitalizations and deaths have so far remained low, with health officials crediting the county’s high vaccination rate. In Long Beach, 74.4% of residents ages 5 and up are fully vaccinated, but only 37.7% have gotten a booster, according to data from the city.

There are only 13 Long Beach residents hospitalized with the coronavirus. That translates to 1.5 per 100,000 population and 1.6% of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to the city. Still, the recent increase in outbreaks across the city, including among schools and nursing facilities, has played a role in the city dropping back into the medium tier.

The medium tier is the second of three tiers outlined by the CDC to measure COVID-19’s community-level impact by county. Reaching “high” levels would require a sharp increase in COVID-related hospitalizations.

The move to the “medium” level of transmission doesn’t trigger any new masking rules or business closures.

As the winter surge in cases subsided this year, Los Angeles County and Long Beach were among the last large municipalities in the country to keep strict mask mandates.

In February, Long Beach said its indoor masking requirements would be lifted once the city reached a seven-day cumulative rate of less than 50 cases per 100,000 residents.

But in early March, Long Beach lifted its mask mandates though the case rate remains double that number, with the city following new federal guidelines.

Long Beach’s health order was last updated in April, ending mask requirements in most indoor settings. But the city continues to require that people wear a mask on all public transit, including buses, trains and ride-shares, as well as indoor transportation hubs such as airport terminals.

Long Beach to offer Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot for children ages 5 to 11

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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