“We’re making good progress,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at his coronavirus news conference on Wednesday.
“The promising signs is that we see this week is proof that our progress is real. But we have to keep going,” the mayor urged.
As part of that, Garcetti announced a new effort to “ramp up even more testing.”
With rapid testing and earlier contact tracing, “80 percent of future infections could be prevented,” he said.
Garcetti said that the county’s test sites use PCR tests, which he called “the diagnostic gold standard.” Garcetti said they can deliver highly-accurate results in 30 hours, sometimes sooner.
Garcetti announced that a group affiliated with the council of mayors and also state governors will be looking to “explore and accelerate rapid at-home testing” with a test strip technology that’s in development.
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Such test strips could be manufactured for $5 or $10, he said. The technology still needs to be cleared by the FDA.
“We’re going to urge the FDA and the CDC to clear the barriers to these tests,” said the mayor.
Garcetti noted that the city has given over 1 million tests in the past few months. “If we get this right,” he said, “we could be doing as many as 1 million tests a week.”
“As always, L.A. will lead,” said Garcetti.
Earlier in the day, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer reported that cases among young adults have increased steeply in the past 6 weeks and that age group is “now driving infections in L.A. County.”
Adults ages 18-29 now have the highest case rates per 100,000 people of any demographic, at just over 25, she said. Children between 0 and 4 years old now have the second-highest case rate per 100,000 people, at just over 20.
Ferrer said those two age groups have seen “explosive growth” in the past 6 weeks. They now account for about 70 percent of all new cases.
On Wednesday, the county reported 58 new deaths due to the virus, for a total of 5,109.
There were 2,428 new cases reported, including close to 700 cases from the backlog due to the state’s recent reporting system errors. “We believe we’ve received only a fraction of those [backlogged] cases,” said Garcetti.
Hospitalizations due to coronavirus and ICU patients with COVID-19 continue to trend downward.
With data revealing communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, county Supervisor Hilda Solis and the Mexican Consulate of Los Angeles opened a COVID-19 testing site in the MacArthur Park area on Wednesday.
The testing site is located inside the Mexican Consulate and is free of charge.
“Expanding access to COVID-19 testing is imperative to slowing the spread of this highly contagious virus,” Solis said. “Many Latino immigrants and communities of color are hardworking, essential workers with limited access to health care, which is why I am committed to opening more COVID-19 testing sites.”
Solis said the nearby Westlake and Pico Union neighborhoods have been particularly affected by COVID-19, and more than 1,500 tests will be administered weekly at the site from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
County statistics show Latinos have suffered nearly three times more coronavirus cases than any other ethnic category.
While the overall test positivity rate in L.A. County is 10 percent, Latinos have a 14.2 percent positivity rate, according to Garcetti.