Los Angeles Has Tests To Spare As Virus Cases Drop And Beaches Open

The City of Los Angeles still has thousands of tests available after promising COVID-19 screening at eight city testing sites.
Posted at 4:38 PM, May 19, 2020

The City of Los Angeles promised COVID-19 tests to anyone who wants one. And it still has thousands of tests available. That's good news, as the rate of infections declines in Los Angeles County.

L.A. County, home to 10 million residents, had more than 38,000 coronavirus cases and 1,800 deaths as of Tuesday. Public health officials say each person getting the coronavirus is on average still infecting at least one other person. But that has dropped markedly from a previous average of 3 1/2 new cases for each COVID-19 infection.

The drop has happened as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made testing widely available in the city of 4 million people. The city paid $137 per test kit to make 75,000 available a week at 8 drive-up locations. So far, it's averaging 57,000 tests a week, meaning as many as 18,000 are available.

The mayor calls the ongoing effort a learning curve in containing the virus spread.

"If we're all in this together and figure out smart ways that this virus is teaching us to get through living with it safely, we will continue to see forward progress."

Los Angeles County notably kept its beaches closed as other California communities raced to reopen. Now L.A.'s beaches are open, but only for active recreation — walking, running, swimming, surfing. Not crowding onto the sand or boardwalks — but that is happening again.

"It's affected us greatly, this coronavirus. It pretty much locked down the whole beach. They did a good job of that for the first two months. Now people are getting a little antsy with the masks and they really want to come out. So there's going to be a lot more people coming out now," said one Los Angeles resident.

Meanwhile, many lifeguards are taking on new responsibilities. They're front-line health workers, making coronavirus testing available to Los Angeles residents.

For Newsy, I'm Peter Hecht