February 23, 2024 4:20 pm

Public Health Alert: L.A. County Urges Residents to Test for COVID-19 Symptoms

As COVID-19 transmission levels surge and respiratory viruses escalate, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is strongly encouraging residents to undergo testing if they exhibit symptoms, aiming to curb the potential spread of the virus in the aftermath of the holidays.

Health officials emphasize the availability of free at-home COVID-19 tests throughout the county, accessible at libraries, numerous community-based organizations, food banks, senior centers, via mail from the federal government, and at retail pharmacies for those with a California health insurance plan.

Public Health reassures the public that most at-home tests can be safely used beyond the expiration date on the box. Information on checking home test expiration dates and obtaining free COVID-19 tests can be found at ph.lacounty.gov/COVIDtests.

Individuals testing positive for COVID-19, especially those with underlying risk factors, are advised to promptly consult a healthcare provider regarding COVID-19 medications. The department highlights the effectiveness of oral antivirals like Paxlovid, which can prevent severe illness, hasten recovery, and reduce the risk of Long COVID.

Treatment should commence within five days of testing positive or developing symptoms, with medications widely available by prescription at retail pharmacies and Public Health locations across L.A. County. For telehealth appointments or assistance in obtaining a prescription for COVID-19 medication, residents are urged to contact the Public Health InfoLine at 1-833-540-0473, operating seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Individuals exhibiting respiratory illness symptoms who test negative for COVID-19 are encouraged to wear masks indoors around others to prevent the spread of other respiratory infections like flu or RSV. In cases of persistent symptoms, re-testing for COVID is recommended 48 hours later, according to Public Health.

Last week, the county’s COVID-19 hospital admission level reached a medium level, prompting the requirement for all healthcare personnel in licensed facilities providing inpatient care to mask, irrespective of COVID-19 and influenza vaccination status.

Public Health reports an average of 542 cases per day, reflecting a slight decline from the previous week’s 621 cases per day. However, the recent week saw a lower number of reportable tests, likely influenced by the holiday period. The current seven-day daily average for COVID-positive hospitalizations in the county, between Dec. 24 and 30, is 783, with an average of 542 cases. The test positivity rate over the same period is 13.9%.