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L.A. County provides at-home coronavirus testing in pilot program

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With coronavirus cases skyrocketing, some Los Angeles County residents will now be able to screen themselves for infection at home.

Under a newly launched county program, residents can be mailed free testing kits if they have symptoms of COVID-19, were recently in close contact with a confirmed or suspected case, or if they are a senior citizen or have disabilities and can’t go to an in-person testing site following a potential exposure.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure testing is available to all,” Dr. Clemens Hong, who oversees local COVID-19 testing under the county Department of Health Services, said in a statement Friday. “This allows us to reach even more people — and they don’t have to risk exposing others by leaving their homes. It’s an important step for combatting the virus in L.A. County.”

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Residents who are interested in participating can check their eligibility and place orders through Fulgent Genetics, the county’s program partner.

Those who qualify will have a collection kit shipped to their home within two days, according to county officials. Residents will then need to collect their sample and deposit it at a FedEx drop box the same day.

Individuals should get their results by email within two days.

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The home-testing pilot program runs through Jan. 15 and is designed “to reduce COVID-19 spread throughout the holiday season,” according to Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health services.

“At-home testing allows us to reach even more people, and especially people who have trouble … accessing those in-person sites and who might have risk of infecting others if they aren’t able to easily get access to testing,” she said during a briefing earlier this week.

For more information on the home-testing program, or to make an in-person appointment, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

The program is coming online at the same time L.A. County is seeing record numbers of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

The county set records for both Thursday — reporting an all-time-daily high of 7,713 new cases and 2,668 patients with a confirmed case in its hospitals, according to data compiled by The Times.

Overall, the county has recorded more than 422,000 cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 7,800 residents have died from the disease.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county is now “at a dangerous point where surging cases and hospitalizations are not letting up.”

County residents are being urged to stay home as much as possible over the next few weeks. When venturing out, officials say it’s vital to take precautions such as wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance from those you don’t live with and regularly washing your hands.

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“I can’t emphasize this enough: Everyone must take personal steps to protect themselves and protect others,” Ferrer said in a statement Thursday. “We can’t afford lapses in the straightforward recommended safety measures because they have deadly consequences.”

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