Slowly, it’s getting easier to obtain a coronavirus test in California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced an expansion of coronavirus testing capability throughout the state.
He said that President Trump confirmed in a phone call Wednesday that the federal government would provide the state with critically needed specimen swabs, which have been in short supply. Newsom said 100,000 swabs are expected to arrive in California this week and 250,000 next week.
The governor said six new testing sites will become operational soon, prioritizing “black and brown communities and focusing on rural communities.”
Dr. Susan Philip, director of disease prevention and control for San Francisco, announced Thursday that the city is easing requirements for getting a coronavirus test. The city and its healthcare partners now have the capacity to test 4,300 a samples a day, an increase from 500 daily tests, she said in a webinar.
She said a lack of supplies for the tests had inhibited the city’s testing ability, but as of now, the city has the supplies it needs to expand. The city has 26 testing sites.
The relaxed testing requirements will allow anyone with certain symptoms to be tested as well as anyone who has had contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus. People will not be required to get an order from a physician, and the tests will be free.
The expanded list of symptom include diarrhea, fatigue and chills, she said.
Between March 2 and April 22, 12,598 city residents were tested, and 12% were found to be positive, she said.
She said the city was striving to expand testing for people in group settings, essential workers and those in neighborhoods that have been disparately affected by the virus, including the heavily Latino Mission District.
But she also warned that the tests can produce false negatives, particularly if the infection is very new. She said the city is developing protocols to determine when healthcare and other front-line workers who tested negative should be retested.
Beginning Thursday, all critical workers in Los Angeles, including those without symptoms, can get tested for the virus, Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a news conference Wednesday evening.
Healthcare professionals, grocery store employees, first responders and critical government employees can get the swab test at any of the testing sites throughout the county, Garcetti said. The expanded testing criteria, which the mayor said he hopes will provide some peace of mind to the workers, is also a critical step “on the road to reopening.”
“It’s a very important milestone,” he said.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore thanked Garcetti, saying that he knew that the men and women in the Police Department would be happy to learn of the update.
“It’s great for us,” he said. “It’s great as a leader for me to know that.”
On Wednesday, Los Angeles County health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, in a major policy shift, announced that nursing homes are now being advised to test all residents and staff, not just those who show symptoms. The previous guidance to test only those who were symptomatic was a mistake, she said.
“We were wrong,” Ferrer said at a news conference before announcing the new recommendations, which follow a similar shift in state policy.
Testing only people with symptoms has probably resulted in a significant undercount of cases at nursing homes, experts say, where the ever-climbing number of people falling ill and dying is already a national tragedy.
Any Los Angeles County resident with symptoms of COVID-19 can now make a same- or next-day appointment for testing, the county announced Friday. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Here is a full list of testing sites in L.A. County:
- Antelope Valley Mall (1233 Rancho Vista Blvd., Palmdale)
- Pomona Fairplex (Gate 17, West McKinley/Fairplex Drive)
- South Bay Galleria (1815 Hawthorne Blvd., Redondo Beach)
- Carbon Health-Echo Park (walk-up only; 2110 Sunset Blvd., Suite M, Los Angeles)
- Crenshaw Christian Center (7901 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles)
- Glendale Memorial Hospital (222 W. Eulalia St., Glendale)
- Hansen Dam Recreational Center (entrance on Osborne Street, 11798 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace)
- High Desert Medical Group (43839 15th St. W., Lancaster)
- Hotchkin Memorial Training Center (1700 Stadium Way, Los Angeles)
- VA Parking Lot 15 (100 Constitution Ave., Los Angeles; at the corner of Constitution and Davis)
- Northridge Hospital Medical Center (18460 Roscoe Blvd., Northridge; enter on Reseda Boulevard)
- Lincoln Park (3501 Valley Blvd., Los Angeles)
- AltaMed Medical and Dental Group — Commerce, Goodrich (972 Goodrich Blvd., Commerce)
- AltaMed Medical Group — Pico Rivera, Passons (6336 Passons Blvd., Pico Rivera)
- AltaMed Medical and Dental Group — South Gate (8627 Atlantic Ave., South Gate)
- Long Beach City College (1305 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach)
- AltaMed Medical and Dental Group — West Covina (1300 S. Sunset Ave., West Covina)
- Charles R. Drew Campus (1731 E 120th St. Los Angeles)
- Santa Clarita (26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita)
- Pasadena (1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena)
- East L.A. College (1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park; between Floral and Cesar Chavez)
- Avors Medical Group (42135 10th St. W, Suite 101, Lancaster)
- Warner Center (6097 Canoga Ave., Woodland Hills)
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (8730 Alden Drive, Los Angeles)
- Kedren Community Health Center (walk-up only; 4211 Avalon, Los Angeles)
- Altamed Medical Group (2040 Camfield Ave., Los Angeles)
- Bellflower Civic Center (16600 Civic Center Drive, Bellflower)
- The Forum (3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood)
- San Gabriel Valley Airport (4233 Santa Anita Ave., El Monte)
- AltaMed Evaluation and Testing Site — Pennsylvania (1724 Pennsylvania Ave., Los Angeles)
- Beverly Hospital (309 W. Beverly Blvd., Montebello)
- Good Samaritan Hospital (1225 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles)
- Bell (6480-6410 Atlantic Ave., Bell)
- PIH Health Hospital — Whittier (12401 Washington Blvd., Whittier)