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Science

Who can get a coronavirus test and how long does it take to get results?

California Assemblyman Mike A. Gipson self-administers a coronavirus test
Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) self-administers a coronavirus test in Carson on Tuesday.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

It’s slowly getting easier to obtain a coronavirus test in California — following an initial rollout marked by restrictions and shortages that had the state lagging behind most others just weeks ago.

So who can get tested?

Hospitalized patients and symptomatic healthcare workers are still considered top priority for testing. A second-priority tier includes symptomatic people who are either older or have underlying conditions.

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Asymptomatic people living or working in high-risk settings such as nursing homes, prisons and even some households are also now high on the priority list, following a decision last week by California public health officials to partially ease testing restrictions.

The state’s broadening of federal guidelines reflects increasing availability of testing, as major labs report sufficient supplies and excess capacity to run more procedures, according to the public health department.

According to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the federal government is slated to provide the state with critically needed specimen swabs, which have been in short supply. Newsom said recently that 100,000 swabs were expected to arrive in California last week and 250,000 this week.
The developments are viewed by some experts as a significant step toward establishing widespread testing in California to identify and isolate every coronavirus case — something that the governor said is crucial to lifting the state’s strict stay-at-home order currently in place.

In L.A. County, residents showing symptoms can make a same- or next-day appointment for testing after registering online. Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle pain, loss of taste or smell, and coughing. (Signs that you need immediate medical attention include turning blue, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, trouble breathing and confusion.)

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The test for an active infection — which involves a mouth swab — takes a few minutes, but the wait in line at each test site will vary, according to county officials.

Results are typically available in three to five days. Patients are notified by email or text message when their results are ready.

This is the latest list of L.A. County testing sites.

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