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Los Angeles Spearheads New Research On Low Cost, At-Home COVID-19 Testing, With Same Day Results

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The city of Los Angeles is now funding research for rapid at-home COVID-19 testing, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today, in part because "this is not the time to wait around for the federal government" to lead on the issue, he said.

Right now, L.A.'s drive-through testing centers are usuing PCR tests, which are administered via mouth swab and deliver results in about 30 hours, on average. "But we still need to go further," the mayor said, "we need to ramp up more testing, and we need to get results even faster."

He added that the rapid test strips have the potential to radically inrease virus detection, and are also much more cost efficient -- while PCR tests cost about $100 to $200, the mayor said test strips could potentially be manufactured for as little as $5 or $10.

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More research is needed to determine the efficacy and exact cost of these tests, which is why, Garcetti said, the city has "convened a national group of scientific experts, bioscience firms, government leaders and foundations" to conduct research and accelerate their development and production.

When available, test strips could potentially be given daily to teachers, workers and students at L.A. schools at low cost, with same-day results. He said the city, in partnership with other mayors and governors in the U.S., is urging the FDA and CDC to "clear the obstacles standing in the way" of moving forward with testing research, and is also calling on the federal government to mandate insurance coverage for this form of testing, nationwide.

Since March, L.A. has tested over one million residents for COVID-19; the mayor said, to put things in perspective, with the rapid test strip we could potentially test one million Angelenos per day.

The mayor added that the city needs more volunteers at testing centers. You can sign up at coronavirus.la city.org/volunteer.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

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  • The city has launched LA Connected, a new initiative to connect struggling Angelenos with resources for paying rent, getting stimulus checks, employment insurance and banking resources.
  • The mayor said that as a city, we are "making good progress" in terms of coronavirus recovery. "This means we're seeing fewer cases, deaths hospitalizations, a low positivity rate and stable and strong availability in our hospitals," he said. "But we have to remain vigilant."
  • He added that we should continue to assume that everyone around us is contagious, as 30% of all cases diagnosed in city testing have been asymptomatic.
  • To get to a place where the city could potentially reopen schools, the mayor said, we would need to get to 14 days with under 200 cases for every 100,000 people. We still have a long way to go to get there, but we're 20% closer than we were a few weeks ago.
  • The mayor also urged Angelenos to use caution this coming Labor Day weekend:
"Many people suspect that our collective behavior in two past holidays on Memorial Day, when things began to ease up, and Independence Day on the Fourth of July, contributed to the rise in cases that we saw last month. Thus, as Labor Day approaches, I want to get ahead of the curve to help us push down the curve. And I want to remind you, you should not host or attend unpermitted parties. They're unsafe. They're illegal... You might have an hour or two of fun, that we literally have to all collectively pay for, for weeks, and even months."

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