Health officials said Monday that the delta variant of COVID-19, which is more potent and spreads more easily, has been discovered in Long Beach.
Statewide, the variant has increased from 4.5% of all sampled cases of COVID-19 on May 21 to 14.5% of all cases on June 21. It is expected to become the dominant variant of the coronavirus within weeks, officials said.
The presence of the variant “is of grave concern, especially to unvaccinated people,” the city said in a statement Monday. The statement did not provide further details, including how many cases of the variant were discovered here.
The health department urged the public to get vaccinated, which can prevent the spread of the variant and also reduces the likelihood a person will get seriously ill or die from the virus.
In Long Beach, 68% of the population over 16 has been vaccinated, with the city struggling to reach younger adults, as well as Black and Latino residents.
Over the past several days, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County has reached levels not seen in about six weeks, as health officials continued urging people to get tested if they develop symptoms of the virus, even if they are vaccinated.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said last week that the county was seeing slight but definite increases in average daily infections, hospitalizations and testing-positivity rates—but not sharp enough to spark immediate concerns about spiking cases.
But she said with the continuing spread of the infectious delta variant of virus, which is blamed for rampant infections in India and parts of the United Kingdom, the small increases should be a warning to those who remain unvaccinated to take other precautions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
The city offers free vaccine clinics six days a week. The schedule can be found here.
City News Service contributed to this report.