In an effort to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus during the holiday season, some residents in Los Angeles County are being urged to take advantage of a new at-home testing program, officials said Wednesday.
The L.A. County Holiday Home Test Collection program is being offered for free to anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, has been in close contact with someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19 within the past two weeks, or is a senior or a person with a disability who thinks they were exposed to the virus and is unable to visit a testing site.
The nasal swab tests are being offered by the county through a partnership with Fulgent Genetics and are the same tests given at the county’s various drive-up and walk-up testing sites.
At a news conference Wednesday, Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said as many as one in every 100 people in the community are infectious and stressed the importance of taking every precaution against COVID-19.
“Please realize how risky even basic activities and basic interactions with others are. Things that were safe one month or two months ago now are much higher risk and not safe,” Ghaly said.
On Wednesday county officials reported 9,243 new coronavirus cases — the second-highest daily case count reported since the pandemic began — and 75 news deaths.
Nearly 3,985,000 people in L.A. County have been tested for coronavirus and 11% have tested positive. On Wednesday Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county’s daily test positivity rate has “increased significantly.” From early November through Nov. 29, the test positivity rate has increased 3-fold from around 3.5% to just over 9%. Wednesday’s test positivity rate was 12.5%.
“This is a most dangerous time for L.A. County, and I ask everyone to please be extremely careful and diligent in protecting yourself and other people,” Ferrer said. “When there are tens of thousands of infected people out and about each day, there is a significant increase in the probability that among the many encounters each individual has during the day, one or more of these will be with a person infected with the virus.”
Residents who want to receive an at-home test kit can sign up at picturegenetics.com and Fulgent Genetics will then ship a test via FedEx within two days. Tests are unable to be sent to P.O. boxes.
The at-home test kits will be free to those who meet the qualifications through Jan. 15, 2021. Insurance is not needed to receive a test and kits are available for children 4 years of age and older.
After residents collect their samples using a nasal swab, they would have to follow instructions to package the swab and take it to a FedEx drop box, or have someone else take it on their behalf. It all has to be done on the same day. Results should arrive by email within two days.