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The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has expanded the county’s free COVID-19 testing services amidst holiday demand. The expansion includes the relaunching of the Holiday Home Test Collection Program with new guidelines to reach more people and make it easier to get tested.
“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,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. “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.”
The expansion includes extended hours of operation at sites across the county, additional mobile testing units in hard-hit areas and additional week and weekend dates as of Dec. 24.
For information, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Dec. 28 reported continued high case numbers along with rising hospitalizations. Test positivity has more than tripled since mid-December, indicating surging transmission across the county.
“The Los Angeles County Public Health Department director has noted that we may be looking at case numbers we have never seen before,” West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister said. “The best protection we have against COVID-19 infection is to get vaccinated, get boosted and be vigilant in testing and in mask use. Very high case numbers across the region may impact our health care system if additional people require hospitalization and it’s up to all of us to do what we can to take steps to safeguard our health and one another.”
Although the hope is that Omicron symptoms are milder, the current rise in hospitalizations is a cause for concern. Hospitalizations have increased by 30% since Dec. 21.
On Dec. 28, the health department reported 9,473 new COVID-19 cases (1,632,893 cases to date)and 22 new deaths. Approximately 1,000 individuals were hospitalized as of Dec. 28.
The department also identified 292 cases among L.A. County healthcare workers during the week of Dec. 18, an increase of 26% from the previous week. Meanwhile, 46% of hospitals in the county were reporting staffing shortages, compared with 20% at the outset of last winter’s case surge, which is occurring statewide.
“California is now seeing nearly 15,000 new COVID-19 cases every day, a five-fold growth in just one month,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. “And hotspots like Los Angeles are seeing even faster spread, with new cases up 450% in just two weeks. Those numbers are expected to climb – experts warn that infections and hospitalizations could increase dramatically following holiday travel and family gatherings. I can’t stress enough the need to wear masks and avoid large public gatherings as this disease once again surges. It’s critical that we continue to follow public health guidelines, which we know help limit transmission of this disease.
“For those who haven’t been vaccinated or received a booster shot, the time to act is now. With the rapid increase in cases, the potential to become infected and further spread the omicron variant is incredibly high. Two-thirds of Californians are fully vaccinated, but that number needs to rise.”
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