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L.A. Can Now Test 11,000 People for COVID-19 Per Day

April 16, 2020 by Brian Champlin
Screencap via Mayor of LA / Facebook

With 399 new cases confirmed today, Los Angeles now has a total of 10,854 COVID-19 cases, a 3% increase since yesterday. 455 people have died. The good news, if there is some, is that testing has dramatically scaled up over the past few weeks.

During Thursday’s daily update, the Mayor stood in the parking lot of the Crenshaw Christian Center and announced that L.A. County’s daily testing capacity has now increased to 11,000 tests per day. Garcetti was joined by L.A. Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas, Dr. Cynthia Davis, and actor Sean Penn.

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Penn’s nonprofit group, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), has been assisting local first responders in managing some of the county’s testing sites.

“When CORE first arrived on scene, we were blown away with their professionalism, their service, and their dedication,” Terrazas said. “That allows us to pull back our firefighters and paramedics to put them in other critical missions.”

According to the Mayor, CORE has provided 70 staff members to help run four drive-through testing sites throughout L.A. County. CORE was originally created as part of an aid effort to rebuild Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

The Mayor hailed the speed at which testing has been rolled out, with the entire infrastructure built from “the ground up” with no federal funding appropriated.

Drive-through testing began with an initial site in Elysian Park on March 20. As of Thursday, there are now 30 testing sites in the county with the capacity to test 11,000 people per day. For sake of scale compared to other cities, the numbers of tests performed yesterday in L.A. County accounted for more than one-third of the state’s total tests.

“We have the capacity today to do more than half the tests that California did in the last 24 hours. That’s something Los Angeles and Southern California can be very proud of,” Garcetti said.

The tests are a simple oral swab, with results usually available within a few days. The simplicity of the tests, along with the increased access, are pivotal tools in the county’s toolkit to stop the chain of infection.

Still, officials are cautious about loosening the restrictions that have helped L.A. flatten its curve of infection. Among Thursday’s statistics were 55 new COVID-19 deaths in the county, a 13% increase from the day before and the highest single-day total for L.A. since the crisis started.

Dr. Davis, who helped create L.A. County’s first mobile HIV testing program in 1991, warned that Angelenos will need to stick with this for a while.

“We have to be prepared and vigilant to maintain the social distancing measures, which are currently flattening the curve in the U.S.,” Davis said. “We cannot afford more community spread of this virus, which is preventable if we are abiding by the social distancing guidelines outlined by public health officials.”

Mayor Garcetti reiterated on Thursday via a Facebook video post that every L.A. County resident with COVID-19 symptoms is now eligible for free same- or next-day testing. You can make an appointment here.

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