By Shirley Hawkins
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — With coronavirus cases continuing to climb, several drive-through testing sites have been established in the city of Los Angeles.
At the Crenshaw Christian Center, the only site for coronavirus testing in South Los Angeles, emergency medical technicians from the Los Angeles Fire Department are administering tests to residents who drive up in their cars.
Only those who show potential symptoms of the virus and have answered questions on the city’s COVID-19 site at coronavirus.lacity.org are being allowed to be tested at the site.
“Mayor Garcetti has established five testing sites throughout the city of Los Angeles … for the most vulnerable symptomatic Angelenos,” said Jeff Gero, deputy mayor of public safety for the city. “He is passionate about testing the city’s most vulnerable population, which are residents over the age of 65 who have underlying medical conditions.
Those being tested are handed a kit with a swab for the inside of the mouth and another swab for the inside of the nose. The swabs are then placed in a box that is left on a table before they drive off. The whole process takes about 10 minutes, Gero said.
Gero said that the city tries to get results back to people within 24 to 48 hours after being tested.
“The people who are positive are contacted by phone by a doctor,” he said. “Those who are negative are contacted through email or by phone.”
Gero said residents must first answer questions on the city of Los Angeles’ COVID-19 web portal in order to be tested.
“The portal walks them through screening questions and if they have symptoms of the virus, they will receive an appointment for testing. At this time, a note from the doctor is not necessary.”
After answering the questions, residents can select time slots for testing and the portal will give them options for different drive-through locations.
Once assigned, residents must bring a photo identification in order to be tested.
“At the South Los Angeles site, we’ve tested roughly 2,000 people since it opened a week and a half ago,” Gero said.
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, fatigue, dizziness, sore throat, a dry cough, runny nose and sometimes muscle pain or difficulty breathing. It is spread through person-to-person contact and is considered highly contagious.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when an infected person coughs or sneezes without using their hand or a tissue to cover their mouths, they release millions of SARS-CoV-2 laden droplets into the air. Those droplets land on other people’s skin and clothes, or one can breathe them in, giving the virus a doorway into the body.
If a person shakes hands with, hugs, kisses or touches an infected person, the virus can be passed. Once the virus is on one’s face, it can enter their body through the nose and mouth.
In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Safer at Home” emergency order urges residents to stay inside their homes and to limit their activities unless absolutely necessary until at least April 19. It could be extended.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms and fitness studios, public events and convention centers have been ordered to close.
Despite the orders, a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases is expected to hit Southern California in the coming days as Garcetti and Gov. Gavin Newsom urge the public to continue to stay home and practice social distancing.
Garcetti recently ordered beaches and hiking trails closed. Farmers markets also have been ordered to temporarily shut down until further notice.
“We need all Angelenos to respect these orders, so we can slow the spread of COVID-19,” Garcetti said in a recent tweet. “Do your part. Your city is counting on you. Lives depend on us staying safer at home.”
Newsom recently announced the establishment of a California Health Corps to recruit thousands of new health care workers to join in the effort to combat COVID-19. He is asking retired health care workers, medical students, physicians, pharmacists and dentists to sign up to tend to a potential flood of patients that are expected to be diagnosed with the virus in the next few months.
“Medical professionals are the heroes at this moment,” he said. “We need all health care workers out in the field. Doctors, nursing students, EMTs — California needs you. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation as we prepare for what’s ahead,” said Newsom. Recruited medical personnel will be paid a salary and can sign up at healthcorps.ca.gov.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated on CNN that millions of citizens in the U.S. could test positive for the coronavirus in the next several months and that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from the pandemic. He said that nursing homes in particular and an increasing number of cities throughout the U. S. could experience a surge of the virus as the pandemic continues to spread.