Testing limited as L.A. County reports its 2nd-highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases

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No appointments will be available until this weekend for free COVID-19 testing at sites run by the city and county of Los Angeles, officials said Tuesday, when the region saw its second largest daily increase in the number of new cases since the pandemic began.

State-operated screening locations are also experiencing high demand with no appointments available for the rest of this week, according to an L.A. County news release.

There are other, non-publicly run sites also offering free testing that currently have same- or next-day availability. A full list of options can be found at covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/.

The county says availability has been impacted by the city, which is pausing testing after Wednesday as it transitions to a new vendor and registration platform for its screenings.

The county said the city is also “paring back testing sites and slots.” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Later Tuesday, officials expect appointments for this weekend to open up at county-run locations. New county testing sites slated to open Monday at the Hubert Humphrey Comprehensive Health Center in South L.A. and at 12 Wesley Health Centers across the region are also expected to help with demand.

Around 5 p.m., the county portal showed appointments available this weekend in four locations: Palmdale, Redondo Beach, Inglewood and Willowbrook.

Anyone who needs a test is urged to contact their primary care provider, especially if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those who don’t have health insurance can call 211 for help connecting with a doctor.

People who feel sick or think they may have been exposed to the virus are advised to self-isolate until they can get test results.

The lack of testing availability comes as the county reported its second-highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases Tuesday, one day after reporting its largest-ever increase.

Another 2,364 cases and 34 new virus-related deaths were confirmed Tuesday. The county now has nearly 88,300 known cases with 3,171 deaths.

The county remains the epicenter of the outbreak in California, which also saw a daily record for new cases with more than 6,000 infections reported Monday.

As reopening has extended to higher-risk businesses like bars, gyms and salons, more people are testing positive for the virus in L.A. County. Since the pandemic began, 8% of people tested have been positive, but over the past week the positivity rate has increased to 8.8%, according to the county public health department.

“The recent increase in daily cases and rates of positive test results indicates that there is more community spread of COVID-19 in LA County,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said in a statement. “It is as important as ever to use the tools we have to slow the spread of the virus.”

Officials say the best protection against the virus is still frequent handwashing, avoiding touching your face, physical distancing and, when feeling sick, self-isolation.

Hospitalizations have also been slowly rising in L.A. County, though the rate is still lower than the county’s peak of 1,900 people hospitalized in a day. Currently 1,515 people are battling the virus in a hospital, with 27% of them in intensive care and 18% on ventilators.

In recent weeks, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized on any given day has been between 1,350 and 1,450, officials said.

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