Following a holiday weekend, long lines could be seen at COVID-19 testing centers across the Santa Clarita Valley Monday.
“We are seeing a dramatic increase in demand for COVID-19 testing at the Henry Mayo Newhall Urgent Care Clinic, as are urgent care clinics and other testing sites throughout the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Larry Kidd, senior vice president and chief clinical officer at Henry Mayo.
Similarly, Exer Urgent Care’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cory Spurlock said they, too, have been experiencing an end-of-year surge in COVID-19 cases and an overall increase in testing demands, especially during the holiday season.
“Exer Urgent Care is well-equipped to meet this increase in demand, as we’ve spent the past 20-plus months of the pandemic adapting our services to swiftly respond to the community’s need for pandemic-related care,” Spurlock said.
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services officials also announced last week they’d be expanding COVID-19 testing capacity to meet the holiday surge demand.
“L.A. 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 Health Services, said in a prepared statement. “Getting tested 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. We will continue to closely monitor testing needs and adjust capacity as needed in the coming weeks.”
L.A. County capacity expansion includes extended hours of operation at sites across the county, additional weekday and weekend testing dates, additional mobile testing units in hard-hit areas, and the relaunching of the holiday home test collection program with new guidelines to reach more people and make it easier to get tested.
Any L.A. County resident who is symptomatic or believes they were exposed to COVID-19 can order a home testing kit, which requires swab collection to be mailed back for a PCR test result.
As more and more people get tested, L.A. County has continued to see a surge in case rates, with 7,425 cases reported on Monday, according to the county Department of Public Health.
Henry Mayo also reported four additional deaths related to COVID-19 Sunday, for a total of 195 since the onset of the pandemic, according to hospital spokesman Patrick Moody.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday announced it had shortened the isolation times for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five days if asymptomatic, if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days.
The CDC also shortened the recommended time for people to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19 to five days if they are vaccinated, while those who are fully vaccinated and boosted may not need to quarantine at all.
The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after, per the CDC.
“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a prepared statement. “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
L.A. County Public Health officials have yet to clarify whether they’d modify the county’s health officer order to align with the CDC’s new guidance.
Public Health continues to remind residents that getting vaccinated or boosted remains critical as holiday traveling and gatherings continue, as well as getting tested and wearing masks.
All COVID-19 services are free to L.A. County residents and can be accessed by anyone regardless of insurance or immigration status. To find a COVID-19 vaccine site near you, visit VaccinateLACounty.com, or to find a testing site, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.
Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Monday:
Countywide COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours: 7,425
Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,623,442
New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 9
Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 27,555
Hospitalizations countywide: 904
Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Dec. 26: 20, with 1,708 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.
COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 309, 220 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.
Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 41,975
Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Dec. 26: 373
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of Dec. 19: 78.2%*
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of Dec. 19: 74.7%*
*These figures now include all eligible Los Angeles County residents ages 5 and older.