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L.A. County Opens More Mobile Testing Sites, Expands Access to All Symptomatic Residents

Los Angeles County's mobile testing sites, as of April 7, 2020.

Location

Alhambra , CA

Los Angeles County is picking up speed on testing the general population. Previously, to be tested you had to have a lab order from a health care provider or hospital. The county is opening up more drive-through locations for a wider range of residents.

The City of L.A. began drive-through testing in mid-to-late March for first responders, essential city employees and City residents with lab orders. Testing for the county began in April for high-risk symptomatic residents, though there were limited testing sites.

Monday night, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that testing criteria was expanded to include all residents who are unable to work due to an exposure to a COVID-19 case or those who are exhibiting symptoms, not just in high-risk populations, though they will be prioritized with same or next day testing.

County officials echoed his announcement at Tuesday’s noontime press briefing. L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, whose District 1 splits the SGV with District 5 Supervisor and board chair Kathryn Barger, announced that a site at  East L.A. College  will open tomorrow.

At the moment, the San Gabriel Valley’s closest drive up locations are to the east in Pomona at the Fairplex, and west at Lincoln Park near LAC+USC Medical Hospital or Hotchkin Memorial Training Center near Dodger Stadium.

Equity in testing, including racial and socioeconomic factors, are on state and county officials’ minds. East L.A. was mentioned in a list of examples  of low-income, multilingual areas that need to have access to testing in today’s statewide COVID-19 update by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

At last week’s L.A. County update, Ferrer mentioned three underserved areas, South Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley and outer areas of Lancaster.

A look at the map of county testing sites open today shows an obvious lack of proximity to testing in the heart of the SGV and Southeast L.A.

Solis announced Tuesday that she is working through a regional lens to prioritize equity and called on county and health care professionals to collect data on race and ethnicity for better understanding of issues to access.

She also said she is finalizing locations in South Gate, Commerce, Pico Rivera and West Covina.

Solis asked for people to sign up for the California Health Corps, specifically those who speak multiple languages, so people can get appropriate and compassionate care.

Newsom said it’s not just race and income that hold people back from access, but other issues such as some aren’t able to fill out the online form to go to the drive-throughs.

“The disparities of testing are a point of obvious and real concern; to make sure that all communities in the state of California are being tested, not just some,” he said.

When Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer gave the daily status report, she said they were trying to compile a report for early next week about access to testing, including race and income levels of those tested.

Ferrer said the Department of Public Health is aware of inequalities in testing, not just access to testing.

“People who are living in wealthier communities have had better access to testing and, in fact, been tested more than people who are living in communities where income levels are much lower.”

Alhambra, San Gabriel, Rosemead, Monterey Park and Montebello are in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Southwest San Gabriel Valley Census County Division. The average per capita income is under $26,000, according to the Bureau’s 2018 5-year estimates.

Census microdata areas with communities whose numbers spiked, like Beverly Hills or Brentwood, make $55,000 and $86,000 per capita, respectively.

The Census County Division for these two communities is the entire City of Los Angeles, which has a per capita of $35,000, but encompases a large geographical area and more than two million more people than the Southwest SGV division so it is not a good comparison.

Before the health department said the SGV was under-tested, some compared these cities to the SGV, saying the panic and hoarding that happened in January and February prevented the spread of COVID-19.

The accessibility to drive-through testing sites is currently limited to those who are symptomatic, or those who are prevented from working due to a COVID-19 exposure. People in high-risk categories will be prioritized.

Residents must see if they’re eligible and make an appointment on the joint L.A. City and County testing site.

“If nothing else, this virus has taught us how interconnected we are,” said Ferrer.

There were 550 new cases and 22 deaths reported on Tuesday, bringing the total county-wide case count to 6910 and 169 deaths. Go to the county’s site for the break out stats.


Domestic violence resources are available and emergency protective orders are still being enforced. Call 800-978-3000 or go to their page.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health page.

Meal assistance for the elderly: Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services page or call 800-510-2020.

For help with making drive-through testing appointments, call 2-1-1.

 

For all of the reporting from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.

Thank you for reading our story! Alhambra Source is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our newsroom reports fact-based quality journalism that educates, informs and engages our diverse communities - with no paywall. Support our mission and donate today!

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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