LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – As Los Angeles County continues to reach new ones all-time highlights for daily COVID-19 cases and the queues at local test sites are only getting longer, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he has activated the California National Guard to assist with testing.
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In North Hollywood at Total Testing Solutions, the queues were long and patience was thin as dozens of people waited in their cars for COVID-19 tests on Friday.
“My appointment was around 4.15pm this afternoon and I’ve been waiting for about 50 minutes,” Mina McCoy told CBSLA.
However, many people are determined to get a test even if there is a wait.
“Testing has been a lot harder during the last climb, just in terms of finding appointments or finding places that will take walk-ups, and also the turnaround time has been slower,” said Ryan McCauley, who received a COVID-19- test.
Los Angeles County again broke records Friday with more than 43,000 new cases. More than 20% of the people being tested are positive.
Both The University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles, announced Friday that they are expanding distance learning to the end of January due to the increase in Omicron-related COVID-19 cases.
With COVID cases rising so sharply, experts say testing is as important as ever.
“It’s also really important at this particular moment to limit your exposure to other people in general because you do not want to get infected and not be able to get a test and also have to go through all of this,” said Dr. Anne Rimoin, Professor of Epidemiology at UCLA.
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Asked whether they would consider reopening mega-test sites like Dodger Stadium to meet demand, LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in part:
“I work with our health department to expand testing at our existing locations through the evening and weekend hours, launch mobile test sites and provide home test kits to community members where possible.”
Many residents said the competition to get a deal or a test kit is fierce.
“I tried to make appointments but did not have much luck about a week ago. So I did walk-ups, and yes, I saw lines that pretty much go halfway around the block, ”McCauley said.
A local volunteer, identified only as Jashin, said her elderly parents had difficulty making an appointment online or getting help in Spanish.
“If you were to drive along Florence and the Atlantic right now, you would see a large number of people having the same problem as my parents,” she said. “What worries me the most is the social distancing. There are long queues. It’s cold. People get sick, whether it’s flu or COVID.”
Meanwhile, the increase continues to take a heavy toll on health professionals. LA County has seen nearly 1,000 more health workers test positive since the end of December.
“It’s not just about COVID. We can see that normal health services are also affected. So now is the time to be extremely careful. You do not want to have to go to the hospital for any reason,” said Dr. Rimoin.
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CORE has opened a new drive-thru COVID-19 test site at Pierce College. Opening hours will be 10-16, Tuesday-Saturday, and the entrance is right on Mason Avenue and Victory Boulevard. The site has been agreed to be open for at least the next month. Interested parties are asked to pre-register online before going to the site.