LA Becomes The First Major City In The US To Offer Free Testing To Every Resident, Even Those With No Symptoms
Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti announced today that all Angelenos, even those without symptoms, can now get tested for COVID-19, at no cost.
"Los Angeles will become the first major city in America to offer wide-scale testing to all of our residents, with or without symptoms," he said in his daily press briefing, adding that those with symptoms wil always have first priority.
The mayor said this policy will start tonight.
An example of someone who might benefit from this new policy is a person who isn't showing any symptoms, but knows they were exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It could also be helpful for determining who is safe to go back to work, when the economy starts to gradually re-open.
The mayor empahsized that these tests will be free for everyone in L.A. County:
"You can't put a price on the peace of mind knowing that you can't infect somebody around you."
"It's not going to be 4 million people rushing to the testing centers overnight," he added, saying that the extra capacity of tests would, however, allow folks to get tested multiple times, if needed. He discourage people from going to get tested everyday, though, saying "that's nobody's advice."
Note: A spokesperson from the mayor's office confirmed that the testing website is moving slowly due to increased traffic following the mayor's announcement. Crashes have been fixed, as of 6:50 p.m., and it should be up and running again now.
UPDATES ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
In response to an increase in domestic violence emergency calls to LAPD, the city is launching a program called Project Safe Haven, which will offer housing to 900 domestic abuse survivors over the coming months. The program is being funded by a 4.2 million dollar donation from Rihanna and Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter.
The project will also include wraparound services and case management for survivors.
The mayor urged anyone experiencing domestic abuse who is in need of help to call 9-1-1 or visit coronavirus.lacity.org/resources to learn how to sign up for assistance.
UPDATES ON JOB PROTECTION
The mayor also announced that he signed, today, an ordinance that will protect workers in the hardest-hit industries, who have lost their jos as a result of COVID-19, by guaranteeing that they will be first in line to get their jobs back, once the economy re-opens.
In response to a question from a reporter about other cities like Austin, Oakland, Denver and San Francisco blocking off streets from traffic to make walking on them safe for social distancing, the mayor said he supports the idea and is open to it, but probably won't make a move to do anything similar until May 15, when the city begins to take small steps to re-open.
He said he wants to make sure he does it right, without causing large numbers of people to flock to the same spot, which could potentially spread the virus.