All L.A. County residents can now get tested for coronavirus for free

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
Editor, Time Out Los Angeles
Photograph: Shutterstock

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that all Los Angeles residents can now get tested for coronavirus—for free. This makes L.A. the first major city in the country to offer free testing to everyone.

Those wishing to get tested, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, can schedule an appointment online (though as of publication, we had some trouble getting through to the site). Frontline workers and those with Covid-19 symptoms will still be given priority for same day and next day appointments. Previously, those two groups were among the only ones who were able to get free tests.

UPDATE: There’s been some confusion about whether free testing for asymptomatic individuals extends to all county residents or just city residents. The short answer: Those who are asymptomatic and reside outside of the city can get tested, but they’ll be routed to city-run test sites as opposed to county-run ones. Scheduling a test for either type of site is operated through the same online portal.

The long version: Garcetti, in a Q&A on Wednesday night, clarified that free testing for asymptomatic people was just for city residents, but a later tweet said it was indeed for all county residents. On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Department of Health definitively stated that asymptomatic testing was only being done at eight city-run test sites, and not at one of the 34 county-run sites. The county said it is “not providing testing for low-risk, asymptomatic individuals” but will continue to do so for people with symptoms, those over 65 and those with chronic conditions, as well as asymptomatic essential workers. Both county and city testing is scheduled through the same online portal, and it’ll automatically route you to one or the other depending on your particular situation. 

For the general public, the city says that testing slots are “subject to availability.” Unlike the brain-tickling nasal tests you may have seen elsewhere in the country, these ones are mouth swabs. The city has an instructional video about preparing for testing, including a suggestion not to eat, drink, use mouthwash or chew gum beforehand.

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