Unvaccinated are vast majority of new COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, city data shows

Since mid-July, the number of hospitalizations and deaths related to the coronavirus have increased dramatically in Long Beach from lows in the late spring and early summer, and city data shows the unvaccinated make up the vast majority of those patients.

Long Beach officials have reported 26 coronavirus-related deaths from July 15 through Friday, including three Thursday. Of those deaths, 88%—about 23 people—were unvaccinated, according to the city’s health department. The median age for those who died was 89 years old if vaccinated and 56 years old if unvaccinated.

The city also has reported 200 coronavirus-related hospitalizations since July 15, with 84% (168 patients) being unvaccinated. The median age of vaccinated patients who have been hospitalized is 65, whereas the median age for unvaccinated patients is 48.

“This virus continues to cause serious, life-threatening illness among many who are infected and the differences in death rates between unvaccinated and vaccinated people are stark,” LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Friday.

In Long Beach, 76.3% of all adults ages 18 and over are vaccinated against COVID-19. Of all residents eligible to receive the vaccine—ages 12 and up—74% are vaccinated.

This week is the deadliest in terms of coronavirus-related fatalities since the week of March 22 when the city reported 20 deaths. Friday’s data will be uploaded to the city’s dashboard Monday.

City officials have reported at least one COVID-19 death for the last seven reporting days, the longest streak since the beginning of April. The city does not update its coronavirus data on the weekends.

On Friday, city officials reported 219 new coronavirus cases. The city’s hospitalizations appear to have leveled off around the mid-120s rage, with 121 reported Friday.

Key indicators, meanwhile, including the city’s seven-day positivity rate and daily cases per 100,000 residents have begun to decrease slowly after climbing for weeks. As of Friday, Long Beach’s positivity rate is 6.5% and the daily cases per 100,000 residents is 32.1, both well-above early June lows of 0.4% and 1, respectively.

At the county level, the positivity rate is 2.7%, officials reported Friday. The county also reported 30 new deaths, 2,789 new cases and that 1,723 people are hospitalized  with the coronavirus countywide.

Coronavirus deaths across the county are up 6% over the past week, with a seven-day average of 18 deaths per week, officials announced Friday.

“When you’re vaccinated, you’re less likely to catch COVID-19, even if you’re exposed. That means that even if you’re exposed, you do not need to quarantine,” LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Thursday. “And you’re less likely to get really sick if you do get infected, which means a quicker return to life as usual once an infection resolves.”

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.