Paralleling the trend happening around the country heading in the holiday weekend, the Santa Clarita Valley, as well as the rest of Los Angeles County, has seen an increase in demand for COVID-19 testing.
The uptick is correlated with the latest surge in positive cases, and officials have expressed fears in recent weeks that the numbers will only worsen once people begin to gather together for the holidays.
According to the most recently available data, Los Angeles County saw about 350,000 tests administered in the week of Nov. 8-14, compared to approximately 300,000 tests between Oct. 4-10 and 200,000 tests between Sept. 6-12.
During that same two-month time frame, the county’s testing positivity rate climbed from 4% to 6%, signaling to residents and officials alike that a long winter may be in store as the county once again readjusts to heightened sensitivity to exposure and stricter safety guidelines.
“The county is experiencing a steeper increase in daily cases of COVID-19 than seen during the summer surge in June and July,” according to a statement issued to The Signal on Tuesday from the L.A. County Emergency Operations, Joint Information Center, in response to questions about the county’s preparedness for the new surge. “As cases have increased, we have also seen an increase in demand for testing.”
Over the past month, officials said the county has responded to the widespread increased demand for testing by adding more than 10,000 weekly testing appointments across several different locations.
This increase in testing is observable in a number of SCV locations, with the county having ordered last Friday an expanded time frame for the College of the Canyons testing location to allow for more appointments. Brisk testing traffic has been seen at other locations, including private clinics and at the Kaiser Permanente facility on Tourney Road.
“Locally, we have seen a significant increase in requests for COVID-19 testing this week,” said Dr. Richard Silverstein, the assistant area medical director for Kaiser, adding that the health care provider has been working to procure more testing equipment across all of its markets. “This month, if delivery of equipment and supplies are successfully fulfilled, we will have systemwide capacity for about 90,000 tests per day, or another 350% increase.”
“We have gone from a little over 30 community testing sites in April to over 180 community testing sites currently,” county officials stated in the news release. “Since the summer surge in June and July, the county ramped up its testing capacity and opened a total of 27 county-supported testing sites in high-need areas. We have plans to increase testing capacity even further in the coming weeks.”
When asked if Public Health officials were more prepared for the fall demand than they were for the summer surges, officials stated they are “more prepared to meet the surge today.”