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Free coronavirus tests now available to all L.A. county, Garcetti says

Public health officials have raised more concerns that those without symptoms may also play a key role in spreading the novel coronavirus.

Any Los Angeles County resident, whether or not they have symptoms, will be able to sign up for a free COVID-19 test, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“Those with symptoms will of course have the priority, but we have the capacity, I believe, to move forward with that starting tonight,” he said, during his daily briefing Wednesday.

Over the last week, Garcetti and city officials have been gradually opening up testing to different categories of “essential workers,” as public health officials raised more concern that those without symptoms may play a key role in spreading the novel coronavirus.

Online, Garcetti declared that L.A. is now the first major city in America to offer free COVID-19 testing.

Angelenos and county residents can sign up for the test here.

More than 30 testing sites have been set up around the county since March 20, when the first location was set up to test first responders, according to Garcetti. The testing sites that are in the city of Los Angeles will be handling the expanded group of people who may sign up for the tests.

Initially the tests had only been available to people age 65 and over and other at-risk people, with symptoms.

The tests were then widened to include people of any age with symptoms — and then to essential workers.

The issue of whether to make widespread testing available has also become more acute in recent weeks, as public officials log more and more deaths of people who caught COVID-19 in nursing home settings, and as more asymptomatic people in other group settings test positive.

Los Angeles officials are also aiming to lay the foundation for potentially loosening up stay-at-home orders, which may include reopening businesses and workplaces. In order to take those steps, public officials have said that widespread testing, as well as increased capacity to trace contacts is first needed.