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LA Has Hundreds Of Thousands of Free COVID-19 Tests Available. Here's Why You Might Still Need One

A healthcare worker hands a patient a COVID-19 testing kit at a drive-thru testing site at The Forum. (Courtesy of the County of Los Angeles)
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The lnumber of new COVID-19 infections and hospital patients here in L.A. has been falling sharply since January, and more people are becoming eligible for vaccines.

But L.A. County health officials say testing still plays an important role in reducing the spread of the virus.

Doctor Clemens Hong oversees COVID-19 testing for L.A. County. He says test sites throughout the county (including city, county and state-run sites) are now operating at only about 20% capacity. That means there may be people who aren't taking an advantage of tons of tests available who would benefit from being tested.

"Almost 80% of total testing capacity at city, county, state and county testing sites is currently available," Hong told us, "And so we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 325,000 tests per week available at over 210 sites in LA County."

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Especially now — and for the next few months — Dr. Hong says it's critical that people continue to get tested if they think they may have been exposed to the virus, even if they don't have symptoms.

That includes both people who aren't vaccinated and those who aren't yet fully vaccinated (you're considered fully vaccinated if it's been two weeks since you received your final dose).

"Even with the rapid decline in infections that we've seen [with] the rollout of the vaccine, not enough people are immune in the community yet, from these vaccines or recent infections, to rule out another surge. [The] bottom line is that vaccinating and testing are both necessary. Testing is still a priority. Right now it's free. It's widely available, and really more convenient than ever. So that's a really critical piece of the puzzle."

Dr. Hong says it's not necessary to get tested unless you have a reason to think you may have been exposed to the virus. Getting tested because you want to gather in large groups or with multiple households is not advised:
"It's really critical that people don't gather in groups and families until we get a lot more vaccine out there, until we kind of get past this really critical stage. And there's a lot of vaccine coming."

As a reminder, COVID testing is free for all L.A. County residents.

And if you are getting tested at an L.A. city or county site, you no longer need an appointment.

You can see a list of testing locations here and here.

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