Los Angeles County introduced a take-home program for COVID-19 test kits Monday as a way to expand testing during a rapid surge in infections.
The county Department of Health Services said the program is designed for residents unable to get appointments as the demand for tests increases during a dramatic upswing in infections due to the Omicron variant.
Residents will be able to pick up a PCR test kit at one of 13 testing sites without an appointment, complete the test on their own and return the completed kit to one of several designated locations for processing.
Residents are expected to be notified of test results — which cover both COVID-19 and the flu — within 24-48 hours.
A test kit-by-mail program that was suspended last week due to lack of supplies is also expected to be restarted this week.
“We look forward to reducing the waiting time to get tested for individuals unable to book an appointment,” said Paula Siler, director of Community Mobile Testing Operations at DHS. “Once all 13 pick-up testing locations are fully operating and once our home testing kit-by-mail program is simultaneously re-launched later this week, we will have successfully added over 10,000 additional daily COVID tests available to the residents of L.A. County.”
The county has also increased the hours and days of operations for testing sites and added mobile testing units.
The new take-home tests are intended for residents experiencing symptoms or who believe they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Supplies are limited, and tests are not intended for use by those testing as a requirement to return to school, work or other activities. Health officials said those individuals should seek testing from their employer, school district or other entity requiring the test.
Information on locations for free pick-up testing kits is available at https://covid19.lacounty.gov/la-county-pick-up-testing-kit-program/.
About 260 testing sites vetted by the county are listed at covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/. All tests at those sites are offered for free, regardless of insurance coverage or immigration status.
Other testing sites located in Los Angeles County are run by private companies, have not been approved by county officials, and some charge for services.