We’re Not There Yet on Testing, but LA Shows the Way

We’re Not There Yet on Testing, but LA Shows the Way


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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I was encouraged the other day when a new COVID-19 testing station popped up in a retail parking lot near where we live in suburban Maryland, just outside Washington DC.

After all, our state’s first lady had just made national news by leveraging her South Korean heritage to bring 500,000 additional COVID-19 tests to the state.

I hoped that this new testing station was some of the fruits of that largesse, and represented the ramping up of testing required for a safe relaxing of the lockdown conditions in place which have kept people at home and most of the economy closed.

Although our governor, Larry Hogan, is a Republican, he’s been the rare Republican who has followed the data and the science–not Donald Trump.

He’s already announced that the state won’t reopen without substantially more testing.

We drove up to the station, masks in place, to inquire about testing. My hopes were dashed when one of the people running the station informed us that the requirements to be tested involved getting a referral from your physician in order to be eligible.

And I know that to that to get that referral, one must be presenting with COVID-19 symptoms–which we were not.

I also know that a testing system closed to only those who have physician referrals–which themselves are based on showing symptoms–will never be adequate and up to the task to safely begin loosening up those lockdown and social distancing measures.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gets it, too, as L.A. has become the first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents.

All Los Angeles County residents will now have access to free coronavirus testing regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Garcetti expressed confidence that there would be enough tests for anyone who wants one, despite the county being home to roughly 10 million people.

City officials are hopeful that this program will also begin tracking the all-important asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

Garcetti and other Los Angeles officials ought to be applauded for putting this sort of program into place.

And, honestly, it needs to replicated nationwide, because it’s the only responsible foundation on which to base any decisions to loosen the lockdown and social distancing measures.

Put public health before the almighty dollar. Anything else would be simply shameful.

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