L.A. County Opens COVID-19 Testing to All Residents
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

All residents - symptomatic or not - are now eligible for COVID-19 diagnostic tests

Written by Dan Smith, Communications Manager, Beach Cities Health District

Testing eligibility requirements have been updated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday. This means all Los Angeles County residents can now book a same- or next-day appointment for a free, diagnostic COVID-19 test at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach or one of the County’s other test sites.

Appointments, which are required, can be made at http://coronavirus.lacity.org/testing. That page carries this warning: “If you are experiencing severe symptoms such as extreme shortness of breath, contact your physician. If it is an emergency, dial 911.”

Priority for the same or next day testing is still given to people with symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Testing is also available for frontline workers with or without symptoms of COVID-19. These categories include first responders, critical government personnel, health care professionals, grocery workers, delivery, rideshare and public transit drivers and credentialed members of the media. Critical workers in one of these categories wanting to be tested can get location information and register online at https://lacovidprod.service-now.com/rrs_first_responders and ask their employer for further information.
For more questions about testing, visit the City of Los Angeles’ FAQ for answers to frequently asked questions.

As of April 29, there have been 195 COVID-19 cases reported in the Beach Cities.

CDC Announces New Symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added new symptoms reported by people with COVID-19 – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

Symptoms which were added this week are fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell. This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Why Testing is Important

In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Roadmap to Modify the Stay at Home Order,” testing is included in the first of six criteria listed before the Order is relaxed: “The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed.”

The L.A. County Department of Public Health has expanded testing to more than 30 locations and encourages people with symptoms to get tested at one of the testing sites throughout the region or through their healthcare provider. 

Testing is safe and takes 15-20 minutes (on average at the Galleria) to complete.

Expanding testing capacity allows health officials to more accurately track the spread of the virus in our community. Upon diagnosis, individuals are able to self-isolate and notify their close contacts to self-quarantine. This contact tracing helps prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Diagnostic Testing vs. Antibody Testing

There are two kinds of tests for COVID-19: Diagnostic and antibody tests.

Diagnostic tests check samples from your respiratory system (such as swabs of the inside of the cheek or nose) to tell if you currently have an infection. This is the type of test available to the general public and what is being self-administered at the South Bay Galleria testing site.

Antibody tests, also called serologic tests, check your blood for antibodies that would show if you have had a previous infection. Antibodies are proteins that help fight off germs. A serologic test may not be able to show if you have a current infection, because it can take 1 to 3 weeks to make antibodies after symptoms occur.

Medical professionals do not know yet if having antibodies to COVID-19 can protect someone from getting infected with the virus again, or how long that protection might last. Scientists are doing studies to answer those questions.

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