Los Angeles is offering free coronavirus testing to all residents, becoming the first major United States city to do so.
“We have the capacity so don’t wait, don’t wander and don’t risk infecting others,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said when he made the announcement at a news conference on Wednesday.
The testing became available Wednesday night and there is no limit on the number of tests residents can get, Garcetti said. Those who get tested at drive-thru testing sites can usually get results within 24 to 48 hours.
Garcetti said at the news conference that the testing would be open to city residents only, but according to a news release and the city’s website, all Los Angeles County residents can sign up for a free test.
Those with symptoms will be given first priority, but Garcetti encouraged even asymptomatic residents to get tested.
“If you feel you need a test, get one. If you want to be safe, get one,” Garcetti said. He encouraged all residents to get a test if they want one, even if they don’t have symptoms.
The decision to expand the availability of tests came after the city opened more testing locations and found that tests were leftover each night, Garcetti said.
There are 34 testing sites across the city and county of Los Angeles, with a capacity to test 18,000 people per day. More than 140,000 people have been tested throughout those testing sites, according to Garcetti.
Health experts have said states should ramp up testing in order to safely reopen. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that the state is instituting a phased reopening plan.
The state is currently in Stage 1, which involves staying home and working on flattening the curve. The state is still “weeks away” from opening retail businesses and schools,” Newsom said.