Los Angeles County’s free, at-home testing kit program is being temporarily paused Wednesday due to lab workers calling out sick with COVID-19, authorities said.
The L.A. County Home Test Collection program — which offers nasal swab kits by mail to county residents who have COVID-19 or are exposed to the virus — has been receiving some criticism online for delayed deliveries and limited supplies.
Some online users have reported visiting the website to order a test kit and seeing a message saying “limit reached.”
Asked about the message, L.A. County Department of Health Services said there is a daily cap of 4,000 home test kits per day to make sure the kits are sent, received and processed in a timely manner.
The program initially began as a temporary service in 2020 and was relaunched amid another major surge in demand for testing over the holidays in late 2021.
It is now being paused starting Wednesday “due to an unusually high number lab staff calling out sick with COVID-19,” Health Services told KTLA in an email.
The county plans to announce a new self-testing option next week.
“LA Health Services is expecting to launch a new self-testing option that LA County residents will be able to pick up and drop off at designated locations,” the department told KTLA.
This new option will help the county increase capacity and deal with the current demand for testing, officials added.
The self-test kits being sent out by the county under the L.A. County Home Test Collection program are not rapid tests and don’t show instant results like the ones for sale over the counter.
The test kits from the county are shipped to homes by FedEx and are meant to arrive within two days after they are ordered.
Once residents receive the kits, they have to take the tests the same day by activating them online, collecting their own samples, packaging them up in pre-paid overnight envelopes and calling FedEx to have them pick the packages up.
Testing sites throughout the county have reported a major increase in demand since before the holidays.
L.A. County residents have been queuing in long lines outside testing sites and rushing to pharmacies only to find them sold out of rapid over the counter antigen tests.
“Demand has been tremendous,” Farhad Tajali of 911 COVID Testing told KTLA. “Over the past four weeks, we’ve gone, just at our facilities here from just a few 100 tests on a daily basis to close to 4,000 tests daily.”