Walk-In Assessments And Telehealth Are Now Options For COVID Treatment For High Risk Angelenos
High-risk patients with COVID symptoms can now walk into dozens of clinics and county testing sites in L.A. and, if they test positive, walk out with a free course of COVID treatment pills.
There are currently 39 community sites, 20 CVS sites and 11 Walgreens Test-to-Treat sites in the county. You can find the location closest to you here.
Angelenos can already get the treatment prescribed by their doctors, but Test-to-Treat is an additional pipeline for COVID pills that intends to streamline the process for high-risk patients who need to start the treatment quickly for it to work. But it is limited by the requirement to have a prescriber on-site, which most pharmacies don't have.
To help address the gaps, telehealth visits are also now an option for residents who can’t go to the physical sites or don’t have one close by, county public health director Barbara Ferrer said at her weekly briefing.
Residents can call (833) 540-0473 seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Call center staff will answer questions and connect patients to services as needed.
“The Department of Public Health telehealth providers are clinicians that are available seven days a week to screen patients for eligibility and determine which medication, if any, would be appropriate for that patient,” Ferrer said. “Medications are then shipped to the patient's home overnight. All of this is at no charge.”
Two COVID treatment pill options are currently authorized by the FDA — Paxlovid from Pfizer and Molnupiravir from Merck and Ridgeback Pharmaceuticals. The pills are antivirals, which means they stop the virus from duplicating in the body.
- Paxlovid (available for anyone 12 and older weighing more than 88 pounds) and
- Molnupiravir (available for adults 18 and older) are oral therapeutics that must be taken within five days of the first COVID-19 symptoms and require a prescription from a healthcare provider.
For both medications, "it's really important to start treatment within three to five days or so of the onset of infection,” Ferrer said. “They work best if there’s very little time between when you get an assessment by a provider and the time you get the medicine."
Pfizer's Paxlovid is considered highly effective, reducing the risks of hospitalization by nearly 90%, but it can interfere with many commonly prescribed drugs and cause health problems if the drug dosages aren't adjusted.
Ferrer said the county health department is working to increase awareness and access to COVID therapeutics, calling them “critical” for county residents at high risk of contracting the virus.
“These treatments can help prevent serious illness, hospitalization or death,” Ferrer said.
You can find all of our COVID-related health coverage here.