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Urban access to coronavirus testing concerns doctors

Crenshaw Christian Center is the only publicly-disclosed site for coronavirus testing in South LA, administered through the Los Angeles mayor's office. In South LA only one site is conducting coronavirus testing by appointment only at a

Crenshaw Christian Center is the only publicly-disclosed site for coronavirus testing in South LA, administered through the Los Angeles mayor’s office.

In South LA only one site is conducting coronavirus testing by appointment only at a local church through LA mayor’s office 

LOS ANGELES — A group of doctors in Virginia is calling for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to release information about whether Black communities are being left behind as the shortage of coronavirus tests continues in the US, according to a March 22 story in BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed reports the doctors are concerned that Black communities and other underserved groups might be disproportionately missing out on getting tested for COVID-19, in the absence of data breaking down who’s been tested so far by race and ethnicity.

“We know in the US that there are great discrepancies in not only the diagnosis but the treatment that African Americans and other minorities are afforded. So I want to make sure that in this pandemic, that Black and Brown people are treated in the same way and that these tests are made available in the same pattern as for White people,” BuzzFeed quoted Dr. Ebony Hilton, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia.

As of Mid-March, the CDC’s coronavirus information site says a total of 66,371 people across the US have been tested for the virus. The latest data on the site says there are 15,219 confirmed cases nationally. The data provided by the CDC does not include a breakdown of who’s been tested by demographics. Johns Hopkins University’s database, which pulls data from global, national, and state-level reporting, says there are more than 26,000 confirmed cases in the US, but doesn’t include statistics on testing.

According to the BuzzFeed story, the doctors say that the deep-seated inequities that disproportionately affect Black communities — like a lack of paid sick leave and adequate health insurance, income disparities, and access to medical facilities — can heighten the effects of a crisis like the coronavirus outbreak.

“I don’t want to speak about Black Americans as if we’re all the same, but there’s a lot of reasons not to trust the government to be fair in circumstances like these,” said Dr. Cameron Webb, who is running for Congress in Virginia. “Yes, that’s a huge question, who has access to those tests … If you’re not an NBA player, it might be a little harder for Black people to get access to those tests.”

Two of the hardest-hit regions in the country, New York City and the city of Los Angeles County, are recommending that people stop getting tested at all, unless a doctor thinks a test could significantly change the course of treatment for a patient. Doctors say that the course of treatment for a person with COVID-19 is not significantly different from the course of action for other respiratory conditions with similar symptoms, because there isn’t a dedicated treatment or cure for the virus.

Limiting testing in Los Angeles County

Currently, 19,000 in people Los Angeles County have been tested for COVID-19. Additional things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website. For more information, please visit: http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/ COVID-19 TESTING

At this time, testing is limited in Los Angeles County. We are working to expand testing as quickly as possible to provide this service to all Angelinos who need it. For the moment, these tests are strictly limited to residents of Los Angeles who are in the most high-risk categories and most vulnerable.

For more questions about testing, please visit our FAQ for answers to frequently asked questions.

LA County is ramping up COVID-19 testing sites, opening three locations on April 3, 2020 and developing many others countywide. The sites opening April 3 are at:

  • Pomona Fairplex (Gate 17 – W. McKinley/Fairplex Drive) Pomona, Calif.
  • South Bay Galleria (1815 Hawthorne Blvd., Redondo Beach, Calif.
  • Antelope Valley Mall (1233 Rancho Vista Blvd., Palmdale, Calif. The testing is by appointment only. Walk-up appointments are not available.
  • Crenshaw Christian Center (testing administered through the office of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti) 7901 S. Vermont Ave., LA, Calif. By appointment only. (323) 758-3777.

At this time, COVID-19 testing is limited to the most vulnerable Los Angeles County residents who are:

  • 65 and older; and/or
  • Have underlying health conditions including:
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • People who are immunocompromised, including as a result of cancer treatment; and/or
  • Have been subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period because they have been exposed to an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have more than 7 days of the 2-week quarantine period remaining.

Access to coronavirus testing

Anyone interested in getting tested must first register on the screening website, coronavirus.lacity.org/Testing. This first step determines if people are eligible to be tested. At the website, individuals are asked to answer basic questions including name, date of birth, address, and whether they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing. The website determines and confirms an individual’s testing eligibility. Those who receive confirmation of testing eligibility will then be given a selection of testing sites, available appointment times to complete the test registration process.  The registration number will be required information at the testing site.

All of the testing locations are “drive-up” — clients stay in their cars for tests (though pedestrian clients with appointments can be tested as well). The test is a self-administered oral swab, meaning clients must swab their own mouths/throats using instructions provided to them at the site. The testing process takes between 5 and 10 minutes, however waiting times may vary. More information and frequently asked questions are available at covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

“The goal is to increase testing capacity as quickly as possible in Los Angeles County to meet the community’s needs, which are growing every day,” said Clayton Kazan, M.D., medical director of the LA County Fire Department, and is leading the county-wide coordination of COVID-19 testing.

Kazan continues to reach out to healthcare stakeholders all across LA County, which seeks to support and scale the efforts of cities and health care providers who have begun their own testing programs, merge them into the county-wide network and ensure that they have adequate supplies. Additional sites in Northridge, Long Beach, Lancaster, and Pasadena are presently in planning stages.

For more information and FAQs: covid19.lacounty.gov/testing

To register and see if you are eligible for a test: coronavirus.lacity.org/testing

 

 

Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Los Angeles County, California, and the world.

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