L.A. County health officials announce expanded coronavirus testing


With coronavirus cases soaring, L.A. County health officials announced Friday that they are expanding COVID-19 testing services, including the relaunch of an at-home test collection program.

The announcement comes as the number of new coronavirus cases skyrocketed to nearly 10,000, a sharp increase that health officials attributed to the spread of the ultra-contagious Omicron variant.

County health officials said that demand for testing has climbed as residents prepare for holiday celebrations. The county’s testing positivity rate has reached 9.6%, up from 4.6 % on Tuesday, officials said.

“LA County residents are doing right by getting tested as a precaution before gathering, if they have been exposed and at the first sign of symptoms,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of L.A. County’s Department of Health Services, said in a news release. “We will continue to closely monitor testing needs and adjust capacity as needed in the coming weeks.”

County officials said the expanded testing, effective Friday, includes extended hours of operating at testing sites across the county, “additional week and weekend dates,” as well as more mobile testing units dispatched to “hard-hit areas,” according to the news release.

The county health department is also relaunching a holiday home test collection program whereby residents can request an at-home nasal test swab kit and have it delivered by FedEx within two days.

On Friday, the county reported 9,988 new cases, compared with 8,633 on Thursday and 6,509 on Wednesday. Cases have been rising dramatically this week. On Tuesday, the county was recording 3,052 cases.

Counties across the state are seeing cases spike.

According to data released Thursday by the California Department of Public Health, at least three California health systems have reported that Omicron appears to account for 50% to 70% of new cases.

Officials stressed that full sequencing of the cases is still being done and did not identify the areas where Omicron was spreading fastest. Additionally, the state said, clinical and wastewater data suggest that Omicron is now spreading in most parts of California.

Officials said they hope to avoid new shutdown rules and believe the best chance of controlling Omicron is with vaccinations and booster shots as well as safety protocols such as indoor mask wearing.

Ghaly said that testing and isolating, as needed, “plays a vital role in our collective fight against the current Holiday surge.

“We encourage anyone — including those who are vaccinated — to get tested if they believe they have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.”





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