Long Beach officials reported Wednesday, April 1, that a second resident has died from the coronavirus.
The person was a woman in her 60s who had underlying health conditions; she died at an Orange County hospital, officials said.
During a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said she could not provide further information on the patient, including how long she was sick with the virus.
“I want to personally offer my sincerest condolences to the family of the woman,” Davis said, “who passed yesterday evening.”
The city’s first death, reported last week, was a woman in her 50s who also had underlying health conditions.
Officials also announced 16 additional cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, including two people in separate long-term care facilities. One of them was identified at a skilled nursing facility and one was confirmed at an assisted living facility, Davis said, although she declined to share the names of those facilities.
Davis said the Health Department is not yet aware of where those cases originated, but officials are conducting interviews with residents and staff at each facility to determine that.
“Both of these facilities are considered very high risk because of the vulnerable populations that live there,” she said, “so we are providing a lot of our resources toward identifying other people who may have symptoms and making sure we get them tested expeditiously and making sure we provide the proper (personal protective equipment) for residents and staff who are there in the facility.”
The city’s total number of cases is now 139, and about 31 of those people have recovered.
“This is a number that continues to increase on a daily basis,” Mayor Robert Garcia said during Wednesday’s press briefing. “We should expect that number to continue to increase exponentially in the days and possibly weeks ahead.
“We know that we are headed right now into a critical few weeks where our hospital system is expecting a surge,” Garcia added, “and we’re expecting to see more and more positive cases throughout the city of Long Beach."
The new total count included one additional firefighter who lives in the city of Long Beach; so far, 18 firefighters have tested positive for the virus.
Also Wednesday, Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said that a Harbor Department employee tested positive for COVID-19. That employee has not been in a port facility since mid-March, Cordero said in a statement, and is self-quarantined at home.
Officials have investigated the case and do not believe the exposure to the virus occurred in the workplace, Cordero said.
Still, Cordero’s team closed the floor where the employee worked and ensured the entire floor was disinfected. Before Wednesday, employees on that floor were “mostly telecommuting,” Cordero said, but they are now all telecommuting.
Wednesday’s daily tally was a significant jump, particularly as the city’s daily reports of new cases has gone down over the past few days. On Tuesday, officials reported eight new cases; there were 16 on Monday and 18 on Sunday — Long Beach’s single-day high so far.
Garcia has emphasized throughout the public health crisis that the actual number of coronavirus cases in Long Beach is likely much higher than the confirmed count.
COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is a respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus that causes fever, a cough and trouble breathing. While most people will develop mild symptoms, the disease can cause more severe symptoms — and, as the increasing death toll illustrates, prove fatal — especially among the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Garcia said Wednesday that Long Beach has tested about 1,500 people for the virus, which includes tests that have been conducted in private labs.
He said the city is working to obtain more tests and will open more drive-thru testing facilities as soon as the city has enough tests to serve those sites.
Long Beach currently has one drive-thru testing facility, which is only available for people who are referred by their doctor or health care provider.
“We were hoping that the federal government would provide adequate testing,” Garcia said Wednesday, “and that’s been, I think, something that’s been frustrating for the last few weeks.”
Like he said during a Monday briefing, Garcia said Wednesday that Long Beach still has about 500 full testing kits available; approximately 1,000 more testing kits need a critical piece before being ready.
Garcia said the city, though, is not “just waiting around” to receive more tests from the federal government.
“We are still working with our federal partners,” he said, “but we are also aggressively looking at acquiring these on our own.”