COVID-19 Testing Now Open for All L.A. County Residents

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Cars line up for COVID-19 testing at Dodger Stadium last weekend. (Photos by TOMOKO NAGAI/Rafu Shimpo)

By TOMOKO NAGAI, Rafu Japanese Reporter

Residents of L.A. County, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not, are now free to take a COVID-19 test. So I made an appointment immediately.

With the significant expansion of testing capabilities, anyone in the county can make an appointment. Those who have symptoms and those who are engaged to essential businesses can be on the fast track for reservations, but that is the only difference.

When you enter the dedicated website for application, first you will be asked about your symptoms. After the initial screening questions, you will be led to the list of the test sites, the date, time, and the number of spots available. I chose the venue at Dodger Stadium’s parking lot at 3 p.m. on May 2.

I arrived 20 minutes before my appointment time, but a long line of cars continued along the 110 Freeway for over a mile. I positioned my car at the end of the line. It took me an hour to get to the venue.

Staff wearing protective gear at the first checkpoint.

My first contact with a site volunteer was when I got into the venue from Stadium Way, he asked me, “Do you have an appointment?” I answered, “Yes.” He said, “Please prepare the last five digits of the confirmation number.” I said, “Yes.”

Then he asked, “Did you watch the video?” Oops. I hadn’t actually watched it, but based on the information published in The Rafu Shimpo on that day, I answered, “I’m supposed to cough and then wipe inside my mouth with a swab, right?” He said, “You know it. Good job.” It seemed I had passed the first test.

There were two checkpoint stands in the process. At the first checkpoint I was given a test kit in a pouch with my confirmation number on it. I collected saliva from the mucus membrane of my mouth, and sealed the swab in a small test tube. The reagent liquid was contained in the tube. I put the sample back into the pouch, submitted it at the second checkpoint, and I was done.

Everything happened with a drive-through, without getting out of the car. They kept warning that the car windows must be kept closed except when necessary.

It took about an hour from the beginning untill I got to the first checkpoint, and 5 minutes for sampling. Now I am waiting for the result, which will arrive by email in a few days.

For anyone who are going, I would recommend you watch the video beforehand. It is posted on YouTube. In fact, almost the same experience I had is described in the video. So I think that I could have relaxed more if I had watched the video.

The only difference in my experience was how to submit the sample. Instead of me holding my hand out of the window to drop off the pouch, a staff member with long, stick-like grabbing tool took the pouch and carried it away. These details may vary slightly depending on the venue.

The drive-up venue cannot be visited on foot, so if you have no car, you need to choose a venue where you can walk up.

I think it is quite possible that coronavirus tests may become part of our “new normal” life. But, not to worry, it is easy and painless for anyone, including the elderly and children, so I am just so relieved.

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The City of Los Angeles, in partnership with Los Angeles County, is providing free COVID-19 testing to all Los Angeles city residents, whether or not you are experiencing symptoms. Priority for same- or next-day testing is still given to people with symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Testing is by appointment only.

Once you access http://Coronavirus.LACity.org/testing, you can schedule an appointment, find a location near you, and get answers to frequently asked questions. There are several locations in the community for your scheduling convenience.

All county residents who are interested in being tested are strongly encouraged to first contact their primary care provider or healthcare center about receiving a test at their facility. If you do not have access to this care or are unable to contact them, free testing is available across the county. Priority is given for those who meet criteria below in accordance with new state guidelines:

• Symptomatic persons with the following symptoms: Fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell

• Asymptomatic persons:

• Over age 65

• With a chronic medical conditions

– Who are essential workers, including social service employees; critical government personnel; healthcare professionals; grocery and food service workers; utility and other public employees

• This is in addition to testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in congregate institutional settings.

For L.A. County residents, there are now three types of testing sites, by appointment only:

• L.A. City and County Testing Sites. These sites are operated by the city or county or a partner group. Some are walk-in clinics and others are drive-up sites.

• OptumServe Testing Sites. These sites are powered by OptumServe in partnering with the state and county. These sites are all walk-in clinics.

• Verily Testing Sites. These sites are operated by the state and partner Verity, adhering to county protocols.

For more information, visit: https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/

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