L.A. County clarifies COVID-19 testing guidelines

Volunteers direct cars during the COVID-19 drive thru testing at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, April 08, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Los Angeles County Department of Health Services officials clarified that only county residents with symptoms can receive coronavirus testing at county-operated test sites. 

While numerous media outlets had reported previously that L.A. City Mayor Eric Garcetti had announced that any Los Angeles County residents, even those without symptoms, could receive coronavirus testing, Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of Health Services, clarified that that is not the case countywide.

L.A. City will continue to prioritize access for any county residents with symptoms, but will also make excess capacity available to asymptomatic individuals, depending on the availability of resources, at its city-run testing sites, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city’s website.

Testing sites across the county are open to anyone with symptoms of COVID, Ghaly added.

That being said, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the county’s Department of Public Health,  announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently expanded their list of COVID-19 symptoms to include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a new loss of taste or smell. 

“So, particularly, if you have more than one of these symptoms or these are symptoms that you don’t usually experience, we ask that you connect quickly with your healthcare provider,” Ferrer added. “And, everyone should be on the lookout for these signs. If you need a provider and you don’t have one, please call 211, and they can connect you to a provider in your area.”

In addition, COVID-19 testing has been extended to certain asymptomatic populations, such as:

  • All essential workers, which includes healthcare workers, first responders, social service employees and other individuals outside of the health, public safety and social services, such as utility workers, food supply workers and other publicly public employees. 
  • Anyone who is over the age of 65 or has a chronic, underlying health condition, which includes diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic heart disease or other chronic, underlying medical conditions, like cancer. 
  • Individuals, asymptomatic or not, who are residing in institutional, congregate living settings, such as nursing homes, long term care facilities, homeless shelters and encampments, and correctional institutions.

“I understand that testing can provide individuals with a sense of security and that it can make people feel more comfortable knowing whether or not you are infected on a certain day, but I want to caution everyone on holding on too tightly to that security, because, medically, it is fleeting,” Ghaly added. “A negative test one day, does not mean that you won’t get infected the next, or the one after that. The same public health measures that are in place will apply to you regardless.”

Ghaly reminded resident to obey the “Safer at Home” order, and to stay at home as much as possible, while also remembering to physically distance when outside, wash your hands frequently, wear a cloth face covering when not able to physically distance, clean frequently touched surfaces in your home and follow any other public health guidelines.

To view all coronavirus-related stories, visit signalscv.com/category/news/coronavirus.

Editor’s Note: The article has been updated to reflect clarifications needed in L.A. City’s testing availability.

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