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Los Angeles County will be mailing free coronavirus test kits to the homes of certain residents who have COVID-19 symptoms or were exposed to the virus, officials announced Friday.

The at-home test collection program is only temporary, and is meant to address a spike in demand for testing that came with the current surge in infections, according to the L.A. County Department of Health Services.

The county, which plans to keep mailing the free tests through Jan. 15, 2021, also hopes that stepping up testing at homes will help curb the spread of the virus during the holiday season, officials said.

Residents can request to have the test kits mailed to their home if:

  • They have COVID-19 symptoms
  • They were recently in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is suspected of having it
  • They are a senior or person with disabilities who feel they were exposed to the coronavirus but can’t get to a testing site

The at-home kits can be requested on L.A. County’s testing site and they will be shipped to people’s homes within two days — if they qualify, officials said.

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.

As the health department raised alarms over a rapidly-accelerating surge in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations ahead of the holiday season, long lines started forming at testing sites around the county.

Almost half a million coronavirus tests were performed in L.A. County the week before Thanksgiving alone, according to the Department of Health Services.

“As the surge in cases and hospitalizations continues, LA County is trying innovative ways to meet the testing demand and stem the community spread of the virus,” said Dr. Clemens Hong, who oversees testing for the Department of Health Services.

The temporary at-home testing program will use an FDA-approved collection test developed by Fulgent Genetics — the same one used at the county’s drive-up testing sites.

Orange County last month launched a similar program, but with saliva-based home test kits that were first prioritized for Santa Ana and Anaheim residents. Officials had said the kits will be available on a “rolling basis” for the rest of Orange County beginning in December.

Those living in Orange County can order the tests here.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure testing is available to all,” Hong said. “This allows us to reach even more people – and they don’t have to risk exposing others by leaving their homes. It’s an important step for combatting the virus in LA County.”