WITH summer approaching and the increase in public gatherings, Los Angeles County is reminding residents anew to get tested.
At-home testing for residents that have an exposure to a known case or have symptoms, and before and after indoor gatherings is critical to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the county Department of Public Health said in a recent release.
While there are other illnesses that cause similar symptoms as COVID, given the high case rates, anyone with even mild illness should test themselves to be sure they are not sick with COVID and capable of infecting others. And since some infected individuals experience little or no illness, testing before indoor gatherings is another sensible step that can reduce the chance of gatherings turning into super-spreader events.
With the increase in new highly infectious sub-lineages of BA.2, transmission remains high in LA County. The average number of daily cases reported over the last seven days is 4,442. And the higher case numbers have translated to an increase in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. Over the last seven days, the average number of COVID-positive patients per day in LA County hospitals was 515, an increase of 118% from one month ago when the average number of COVID-positive patients per day was 236.
There are several FDA approved rapid tests that are available over-the-counter (OTC) for self-testing at home, at a business, or at other community settings. Most are antigen tests that provide results in a few minutes, as opposed to laboratory-based tests that may take several days to process.
At-home COVID-19 tests should be used when individuals have any COVID-19 symptoms, were exposed to someone with COVID-19, are traveling, and before going to an event or a gathering. Testing before an event or gathering is especially important if individuals at risk of severe disease, older adults, those who are immunocompromised, or people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including children who cannot get vaccinated yet, will be present.
A third round of at home tests can be ordered at no charge from the federal government at www.covidtests.gov. Residents who have health insurance can receive eight free at home tests each month for each insured member in their household. And many community organizations are distributing free test-kits to individuals with limited resources. Free OTC testing kits can be picked up at all Department of Public Health vaccination sites.
Individuals should talk with their doctor to make sure they understand what their viral test result means and any next steps. Those without easy access to a health care provider who have questions about their test result and what to do next can call the DPH COVID-19 information line at 1-833-540-0473, seven days a week.
“As always, we extend our deepest sympathies and prayers for healing to everyone mourning the loss of a loved one from COVID,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “The continued high rate of transmission in the county is concerning, particularly for those at elevated risk. Using all the tools at hand to lower the risk of transmission remains the best approach for enjoying the summer. In addition to masking indoors and staying up to date on vaccinations, knowing your status in certain situations is an important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Getting tested at home, when planning to attend an event or traveling, or if experiencing symptoms, allows you to stay away from others if you test positive preventing further spread of the virus. Over-the-counter tests are available for free from the federal government, health plans, and at many community sites serving residents with limited means. We encourage everyone to take advantage of these quick and easy tests.”
Public Health on Tuesday, June 7 reported 3,722 new positive cases and 10 new deaths due to COVID in LA county. To date, there have been 3,008,619 positive cases reported since the start of the pandemic and 32,178 deaths. Of the positive cases, 557 people are currently hospitalized due to COVID. n