About two months ago, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium, a suspension of activities, on housing evictions and dine-in restaurants and entertainment facilities. Garcetti also encouraged churches to not hold any gatherings during the Coronavirus outbreak. To further protect against the spread of COVID-19, in accordance with the Centers of Disease Control, the Health Officer's Order also required persons in charge of events and gatherings attended by 10-49 persons to ensure that attendees follow specific social distancing measures.
However, Los Angeles is currently opening up beaches and low risk recreational facilities, as it is currently in stage 3 of its 5-stage roadmap to recovery. Group gatherings and activities are still not permitted, but beaches are opening to support individual actives such as running, walking, and surfing. Additionally, retail stores and dine-in restaurants are permitted to open at 50% capacity for small parties of household members only. Additionally, salons, gyms, bars, pools, and museums are in the process of reopening with modifications. For more on the specifics of reopening policies in LA, go to this link. The Department of Health notes that the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to practice social distancing measures and wash your hands frequently. It is crucial that while some public spaced are opening up, everyone continues to practice social distancing to ensure control of the spread of COVID-19.
University of California Medical Center is regularly updating its website and has resources to perform tests on eligible patients. For more info, call patient care: (310) 267-9113. Keep in mind tests will be made available at no cost for at-risk individuals with medical insurance through work, medi-Cal, or those under the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, says patients should speak with their Doctor before seeking out a test. To maximize efficiency, tests will be administered to those deemed eligible by screening.
Should I Go to the Emergency Room?
It is recommended to to stay home if you have normal, flu-like, symptoms and isolate yourself to prevent spreading the disease.
Severe symptoms include high fever, extreme difficulty breathing, ongoing pain or pressure in the chest area, mental confusion, and a bluish tint to the lips or face. If any or all of these symptoms are present, seek emergency health care immediately.
It is recommended that you wear a cloth face covering when leaving the house for essential purposed, such as grocery shopping in order to reduce the chance of spreading the disease unknowingly. Acceptable options for face coverings include a bandana or scarf. Purchasing respirators or surgical masks (such as N95 masks) is highly discouraged, as they are in shortage and needed by health care professionals. Make sure you are wearing your mask correctly. Incorrect mask usage can increase the spread of germs. For example, clean your hands thoroughly before putting on a mask and use the elastics on the side of the mask to place it on your face and take it off. Note: face coverings are NOT a replacement for social distancing.
Screening Yourself Daily & Social Distancing is the Best Preparation
COVID-19 is easily spread by sneezing, coughing and so forth, so simply avoiding contact is one of the most optimal choices you can make during this time. Self-quarantine means staying at home as much as possible. If you are able to miss school and work, it is suggested you do so. If you have traveled to a high-risk location recently, it is imperative. Avoid social settings and public space and avoid public transportation including small spaces like cabs and ride-shares. You can ask the following questions to screen yourself:
Have you been experiencing a fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath?
AND, have you traveled to geographic areas with sustained transmission of COVID-19 within 14 days of symptom onset?
OR, have you had close contact with a person confirmed with COVID-19 infection?
If you have been in the same room as someone who has had COVID-19, you should disinfect the room. This link from the LA County Department of Public Health describes the proper way to deep clean a room that may have been infected: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/CleaningMatrix.pdf
Where to Get Tested for Coronavirus in Los Angeles
If you happened to answer yes to two or more of the self screening questions above, perhaps calling your local clinic or primary care doctor would be a good choice. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health website, there are several clinics you can call to see if you can get tested for coronavirus COVID-19. It is recommended to first check in with your primary care provider and see if they're conducting COVID-19 testing. If your doctor is not testing for the virus, you can call your local urgent care.
As LA expands its testing, health care officials ask that only people at high risk, people with symptoms, or people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 get tested. Additionally, if you think you had COVID-19 in the past, you may qualify to get an antibody test. NOTE: testing positive for the antibodies does not confer immunity and does not exempt you from wearing a face covering or practicing social distancing.
If you are healthy, have no exposure history, and have no symptoms, you are not guaranteed to be tested due to the limited test kit and protective gear supply caused by the coronavirus crisis.
UC San Francisco, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, and Stanford are all offering tests for the novel coronavirus — and UC Davis is currently in the process of getting three different types of tests online. Here's where you can get a coronavirus test:
Antelope Valley Public Health Center 335-B East Avenue K6 Lancaster, CA 93535 661-471-4861
Central Public Health Center 241 N. Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 240-8204
Curtis R. Tucker Public Health Center 123 W. Manchester Blvd. Inglewood, CA 90301 (310) 419-5325
Glendale Public Health Center 501 N. Glendale Ave Glendale, CA 91206 (818) 500-5762
The COVID-19 test is quite simple- a doctor will swab the inside of a patient’s nose or at the back of their throat. The sample will then be kept cool (between 35° to 45°F) and sent to a commercial lab. However, if a sample is not processed within four days, it must be frozen, or a new sample is required. Once you have been approved for a test, it should take 48 hours to receive results, though in some cases it is taking up to a week. The process includes:
Nasal Swab. You should be seated and directed to angle the head back at 70 degrees, then the clinician applies the nasal swab, working it into the back of the nasal cavity before it reaches the posterior nasopharynx. This may be a little unpleasant because the clinicians move the swab to get enough sample material. Don't worry though, it's fairly quick.
Throat Swab. For the throat swab, you will be asked open your mouth and the clinician will insert the swab as gently as possible into the back of the throat toward the tonsils. The swab should be touched over both tonsillar pillars, before removing and securing the sample.
Lower Respiratory Specimen. The final sample involved first rinsing your mouth with water. After this is done, you will be asked to cough up a specimen of sputum directly into a sterile sputum collection cup. This will subsequently be sealed by the clinician and sent off with your other samples to the nearest laboratory.
How Much Will it Cost?
For patients who do not have insurance or a regular health care provider, there are 14 health centers dedicated to serving LA County with free and low-cost services. Find a care center in your area here. Be mindful to call ahead of time for some clinics have limited hours. The federal government has pledged that the costs for coronavirus tests will be waived for all Americans. You will need to work with your health care provider for more information on your specific treatment costs.
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