4-day closure of Dodger Stadium site limits COVID-19 testing in L.A. amid concern of holiday-weekend surge

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Traffic is directed at Dodger Stadium as people arrive for COVID-19 testing on June 30, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

Traffic is directed at Dodger Stadium as people arrive for COVID-19 testing on June 30, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

Coronavirus testing availability in Los Angeles has been constricted due to a four-day closure of the city’s massive Dodger Stadium site over the Fourth of July weekend — which saw many gather to celebrate in spite of public health advice.

The location typically serves up to 6,000 people a day and is believed to be the largest COVID-19 screening location in California. But only three city-run sites were open Monday, together conducting 2,800 tests, said Andrea Garcia, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office.

Garcia said the location will reopen Tuesday, and now has the capacity to test 6,500 people a day. However, as of Monday afternoon the city’s scheduling portal showed no appointments available at Dodger Stadium through Wednesday, and slots further out had yet to open up.

“We encourage folks to go onto the website to make appointments,” Garcia said. “It’s not closing; it was just from a holiday.”

The closure comes amid record-high case increases and a surge of infections and hospitalizations among younger Angelenos, as those less at risk increasingly return to reopened spaces outside their homes.

And public health officials have expressed concern the holiday weekend could result to a spike in cases, after a surge was seen in some states following Memorial Day weekend.

The city had not given warning that its largest testing location would be closed for half a week.

Countywide, publicly run testing sites have been struggling to meet demand since before the holiday weekend.

“There continues to be high demand for testing services,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health services, said during a briefing Monday. “We opened up 6,000 slots this morning; those are currently full. We’ll add additional slots and open those up tomorrow and the next day.”

Ghaly said county officials hope to open five to 10 more COVID-19 testing locations to help meet demand amid a rising infection rate, but plans are still being finalized.

“I would always still encourage people, if you have a provider or you have insurance, to call your plan about your network testing options, in addition to calling your personal health provider,” she said.

California ordered all public and commercial insurance plans to cover the entire cost of the tests in March.

If you don’t have a provider, you can call 211 to get connected with options. The county’s appointment portal also includes a map of non-publicly run sites where free testing may be available.

If you think you’re suffering from COVID-19 but can’t access testing, officials recommend you stay home and self-isolate.

The percentage of Angelenos testing positive has as climbed over the past month, despite a generally robust testing capacity. The average daily positivity rate over the past week has risen to 10%, compared to a cumulative 9% throughout the pandemic, according to county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

L.A. officials earlier faced criticism when half the county’s testing sites were shut down as racial justice protesters took to the streets in late May and early June. However, public health experts have said there’s little evidence the demonstrations contributed to a surge.

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