Los Angeles County’s free, home test kit program has been temporarily suspended on Wednesday due to laboratory workers calling patients with COVID-19, authorities said.
That LA County Home Test Collection program – which offers nasal inoculation kits with mail to county residents who have COVID-19 or are exposed to the virus – have received some criticism online for late deliveries and limited supplies.
Some online users have reported that they have visited the site to order a test kit and have seen a message saying “limit reached.”
Asked about the message, the LA County Department of Health Services said there is a daily ceiling of 4,000 home test kits a day to ensure kits are shipped, received and processed on time.
The program originally began as a temporary service in 2020 and was relaunched amid yet another major increase in demand for testing during the holidays in late 2021.
It is now being put on hold from Wednesday “due to an unusually high number of laboratory staff calling patients with COVID-19,” Health Services told KTLA in an email.
The county plans to announce a new option for self-testing next week.
“LA Health Services expects to launch a new self-testing facility 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 handle the current demand for testing, officials added.
The self-test kits issued by the county under the LA County Home Test Collection program are not quick tests and do not show immediate results like those for sale over the counter.
The test kits from the county are shipped to the homes by FedEx and are scheduled to arrive within two days of being ordered.
Once residents have received the kits, they must take the tests the same day by activating them online, collecting their own samples, wrapping them in prepaid night envelopes, and calling FedEx to get them to pick up the packages.
Test sites throughout the county have reported a large increase in demand since before the holiday.
LA County residents have lined up in long queues outside test sites and rushed to pharmacies, only to see they are sold out for quick over-the-counter antigen tests.
“The demand has been huge,” Farhad Tajali said 911 COVID test told KTLA. “Over the last 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.”
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