LA Approves More Business Reopenings, Plans for Testing Expansion

LOS ANGELES, CA — As Los Angeles launches a rapid coronavirus testing program, the county approved more business reopenings Friday and continued to report high numbers of new cases — the result of a testing backlog that lead to days of underreporting.

In upcoming weeks, Los Angeles officials hope to have a new weapon in the region’s testing arsonal. Officials hope the use of widespread tests will lead to safer reopenings.

Los Angeles County announced 2,773 new COVID-19 cases Friday, along with 23 more deaths.

The county had reported unusually low daily case numbers earlier this week due to the unspecified technical problems. The issues began to resolve Thursday, when the county announced 3,600 new cases, the largest number since a surge that occurred after the Fourth of July holiday. County officials noted that about 2,000 of the cases reported Thursday were a result of the backlog.

Authorities warned residents to expect more backlogged test results to cause higher numbers of new cases reported in upcoming days.

The 2,773 cases announced by the county, along with 84 reported by Long Beach health officials and 25 by Pasadena, lifted the countywide cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 296,930.The county also announced 23 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, raising the death toll to 6,974.

A total of 769 people were hospitalized in the county due to the virus as of Friday, down from 777 on Thursday but up from 758 on Wednesday, 730 on Tuesday, 722 on Monday and 752 on Sunday. Hospitalizations have remained below the 800 mark for several weeks, following post-July Fourth surges that saw more than 2,000 daily hospital cases.

The county on Friday also confirmed two new cases of a rare, coronavirus-related pediatric condition, known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. The two new cases lifted the countywide total to 43, all of whom required hospitalization and half of whom were admitted to intensive care units. There have not been any deaths in the county due to MIS-C.

Two months after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a coordinated effort to establish wide-scale use of rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests, local health officials are poised to announce details of a pilot program next week that will employ an FDA-approved test and assess the feasibility of its widespread use.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into developing plans and implementing these sorts of studies, and we are very excited about the partnership with the city of L.A. and USC that we have made considerable progress over the last two months,” Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county Department of Public Health, told reporters in an online briefing Thursday.

“We will be having a press event next week to share an update on where we’re at and hope to begin implementing at least the first phase of these studies very quickly,” he said.

Garcetti announced in August a collaboration with nationwide medical experts, bioscience firms and government leaders in an effort to develop rapid, low-cost

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