Amid growing concern about the spread of the Omicron version of COVID-19 and fears of another winter surge in cases, the county will set up a rapid-testing site at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, December 3, to provide free COVID assessments. can be offered. For arriving international travelers.
“We will be messaging international travelers about the need to follow federal quarantine and testing guidance, and any travelers who test positive will need to be isolated, and their close contacts will need to be quarantined, County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
COVID testing at Tom Bradley International Terminal will be offered strictly on a voluntary basis, as there is no federal requirement to test inbound passengers.
“The federal government is highly recommending that people get tested,” Ferrer said. “We will have our health workers, as well, talk to people, making sure they understand the importance of testing. We are using rapid antigen test there so that people can know their result before leaving the airport.
“I think it gives them security, too, that they know they can go ahead and regroup with the people they were planning to gather with, with some security at their final destination.” can go up,” she said. “Whoever comes forward and gets tested and they are negative, we will send a test kit home with them so that they can test again after three to five days.”
The move comes as questions are being raised about the recently discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19. Omicron was designed as a “type of concern” by the World Health Organization last week and this week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The variant was first detected in South Africa, where it was blamed for the rapid rise in infections, and has now spread to nearly three dozen countries, including the United States, where the first case was confirmed on Wednesday in California. Had happened. Additional cases have now been found in Minnesota and Colorado.
There are still no confirmed cases of Omicron in Los Angeles County, but Ferrer said the variant is likely already present and will be detected within a few days. It is still unclear whether the Omicron type is more highly transmissible than other forms of the virus, or if it causes more severe disease or can evade the protection offered by current vaccines. But its rapid spread in South Africa has raised alarm, especially ahead of the winter holiday season and the accompanying travel and gatherings.
Ferrer said the idea at LAX is to offer testing for arriving passengers, not departing ones, which could face different testing requirements depending on their final destination.
“What we are really trying to do here is stop people who are traveling from coming back to our communities – they are meeting their loved ones, they are going back home to their final destination. where they can be positive,” she said. “We want to get them in quickly and get them tested quickly.”
Ferrer again urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, or to get a booster shot if they are eligible. He added that vaccines combined with other protective measures such as wearing masks provide strong protection against infection and serious disease.
Of the more than 6.1 million fully vaccinated people in the county, 80,445 have tested positive, or about 1.32%, according to the county’s latest figures. A total of 2,680 vaccinated people have been hospitalized at a rate of 0.044%, and 503 people have died at a rate of 0.008%.
So far, 83% of county residents aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 74% are fully vaccinated. Of all eligible residents 5 years of age and older, 76% have received at least one dose, and 68% have been fully vaccinated.
Black residents have the lowest vaccination rates, with only 55% receiving at least one dose. The rate is 60% among Latinos/residents, 73% among white residents, and 82% among Asians.
The county reported 24 more deaths due to COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total death toll to 25,786.
Another 1,970 cases were reported, giving the county a pandemic total of 1,530,526. As of Thursday the rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 1.3%.
As of Thursday, there were 569 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, down from 574 on Wednesday, according to state data. The number of those patients in intensive care fell from 158 a day earlier to 152.