LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County health officials touted an expansion of efforts to make COVID-19 treatments more accessible to residents, introducing a ``Test to Treat'' tele-health service.
``Test to Treat'' services are already available at dozens of pharmacies and other sites across Los Angeles County, allowing people to walk in for a COVID test, be immediately evaluated and potentially be offered one of the two currently available oral medications for fighting the infection.
The county Department of Public Health this week introduced ``Test to Treat'' tele-health services. Residents can call 833-540-0473 between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. for a telephone consultation. Depending on circumstances, callers could be referred to a nearby ``Test to Treat'' center or potentially have medications shipped directly to their home.
The county also announced this week an expansion of its network of physical ``Test to Treat'' locations, with 58 sites across the area, along with 26 DHS-Fulgent testing sites and county Public Health vaccination sites in Santa Clarita, East Los Angeles and South Los Angeles. Federal government ``Test to Treat'' sites are also available at 20 CVS Minute Clinics and 11 Walgreens locations.
A full list of sites is available on line at ph.lacounty.gov/covidmedicines.
``By expanding the number of sites and launching Public Health `Test to Treat' tele-health Services, more residents are able to quickly start treatment within five days of when symptoms first surface,'' county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. ``These highly effective therapeutics can prevent serious illness or death, and for those county residents in underserved areas lacking convenient access to testing and pharmacies or clinics, a tele-health option makes access to these medications much easier.
``With the recent increases in cases, we are hopeful that as more residents learn about the new oral medications, they will not delay seeking care if they test positive,'' she said. ``We thank our partners across the county working to bring these life-saving medications to residents.''
The two oral therapeutics being offered are Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, and health officials said both are effective against COVID infections, including those due to the Omicron variant and the Omicron offshoot BA.2 subvariant.
To be eligible for the medications, patients must weigh at least 88 pounds, test positive for COVID with mild to moderate symptoms and be at high risk of developing severe illness. The oral medications must be taken within five days of a person experiencing symptoms.
Los Angeles County reported another 17 COVID-related deaths on Wednesday, raising the countywide death toll from the virus to 31,739.
Another 789 infections were also reported, giving the county a cumulative pandemic total of 2,838,442. The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 1% as of Wednesday.
There were 292 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, down from 297 a day earlier, according to state figures. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care was 42, the same as the previous day.