Long Beach reports first COVID-19 fatality as cases rise

Richard Winton, Ruben Vives, Dakota Smith
The area around the Long Beach Convention Center, normally crowded with shoppers and diners, was virtually deserted Saturday.  (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Long Beach confirmed its first COVID-19 fatality on Monday as total cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus rose to 19.

Officials said the victim was a woman in her 50s with underlying health problems.

"We've been dreading this day and were hoping it would never come," said Mayor Robert Garcia. "We extend our deepest condolences to the victim's family, friends and loved ones. We are all mourn this incredible loss to our community."

The 19 cases the city has currently diagnosed range from mild to very severe, officials said.

About 140 people in the city have been or are now being monitored for coronavirus symptoms.

Long Beach announced Sunday it was closing basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, dog parks, playgrounds, skate parks and picnic areas and banning group exercise in parks. Over the weekend, officials expressed frustration that people were not practicing social distancing and following stay-at-home rules.

Los Angeles County has secured 20,000 new coronavirus tests, with a processing capacity of 5,000 tests per day, officials announced Monday. The kits will be free, and healthcare workers and first responders will be given priority for testing.

County officials confirmed 128 new cases and two more deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the county to seven and the total case count to 536.

Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis on Monday urged residents to follow "safer-at-home" guidelines, remain at home if possible and practice social distancing.