Our news is free on LAist. To ensure that you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our nonprofit public service journalism: donate Now.
As coronovirus infections continue to climb, LA County health officials expand reach Free COVID trial. We saw the director of the county’s health department, Dr. Talked with Christina Gali about the new trial strategy and why it is happening now.
This conversation has been edited for clarity.
LA County and the state have expanded the tiered testing system that was initially limited to those who have symptoms or contacts with a known case or who are essential workers. Can you tell who can sign up for these free trials in the county now?
Any person who has other reasons to believe that he may have come in contact with someone with COVID. Either they were in a big gathering or they were around someone that they suspected that they could have COVID even if they did not have the documents, they could now Sign up for slots in any county-run test sites, As well as city-run testing sites and the county’s website, includes more than 150 different community-based testing sites that people can sign up to receive testing.
How long will free COVID tests be available for everyone?
We have no plans to change testing access within the county.
In the spring some LA residents had to wait for the county’s testing days, sometimes weeks, for their COVID test results. Now that you have increased access to county tests, do you think labs can keep up?
This is one of the things that has actually improved during the last six months. Certainly, when the epidemic began, there was an absolute lack of tests relative to the demand for tests. But this too was a long time for change. And this was also related to the test of supply shortages. But now that situation has improved a lot. Patients are getting their results often in 24 hours, and certainly in less than 36 hours. And anyone where it’s taking longer than that Have a website and phone number You can call the county website to troubleshoot what is a specific issue.
when you Sign up for a COVID trial appointment On the county’s website it asks for your health insurance information – why is this so?
When we are not billing patients for the cost of a COVID test, we are working to bill insurance if they have insurance. Patients are asked that they sign up for an appointment slot to provide insurance information if they are covered so that we can see the reimbursement of those plans. Those [health insurance] Plans in California, within the United States, have an obligation to pay for COVID testing. And being able to claim reimbursement of the costs of those tests helps the public sector to offer further resources. People without health insurance can also undergo COVID test for free.
The convergence of COVID and flu season has created a difficult prospect for hospitals. Many health experts are warning that this is a dual threat that can severely affect our health systems and leave patients without hospital care. How is La County’s hospital capacity right now?
We are currently in a good place with overall hospital capacity. Therefore the number of COVID patients admitted to La County hospitals has been relatively stable for the past several weeks. It is having about 700 patients or so. And this was actually seen in July when the number was above 2,000.
So the most important things people can do are actually some things. First, it is important to keep practicing the basic protective public health measures that people have heard so much about – covering the face, limiting social ceremonies, washing their hands, interpersonal relationships between people outside their home Refrain from The flu pill is actually quite protective against the flu, and it reduces the risk that someone will have the flu and coincides with both the flu and the covid and obviously we do not yet know that it is a co- Looks like. Infected with both.