It is almost impossible to get a COVID-19 test appointment right now at the dozens of public test sites run by the city and county of Los Angeles, according to a new NBC4 I-Team investigation. The lack of appointments comes at the same time new COVID-19 cases are surging in Southern California.
"What is the use of telling people to get tested if there’s no appointments available?" said school teacher Letreece Leverett, who has been unable to get a test appointment for herself, after her 25 year-old son tested positive for COVID-19.
A week ago, the I-Team first revealed there were technical problems with public testing appointment websites that were preventing people from getting tested. Last Thursday, LA County's director of Health Services declared those problems had been fixed.
"There are hundreds if not thousands of available appointments that are available," Health Services director Dr. Christina Ghaly told NBC4 last Thursday.
Wednesday, after new questions from the I-Team, Ghaly admitted there were again no appointments available at public test sites. She partly blamed the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, saying that some test sites will be closed Friday and Saturday, so there have been fewer appointments right now.
"We've seen an increased demand for testing, and that is also contributing, as there is more focus in the news on rising case rates," Dr. Ghaly told NBCLA.
She said that more appointments will open up Friday, and that additional public test sites will be opened "in the coming weeks."
NBCLA I-Team investigative reporters break local news on stories that affect our community directly. Here are the latest investigations out of LA and SoCal.
Health officials urge people wanting to get tested to also look at private testing sites. But the I-Team has found many of those are also full and not taking new appointments.
CVS has 69 drive through test sites at its pharmacies in Southern California, but when members of the I-Team tried to make appointments through CVS.com, the site said there were none available.
"We're fully booked all the way til Friday," a CVS employee told an I-Team member at a San Fernando CVS.
Letreece Leverett tried getting a test appointment at CVS, and several other private providers but all told her they were full.
"My parents are 70-plus, so I’m concerned about infecting them," she told NBCLA. "I can't be out in public if I don't know whether or not I'm positive," she added.
The I-Team also asked Mayor Eric Garcetti's office what people should do when they can't get testing appointments on the city's website.
"We encourage everyone to check the page regularly for updated appointment and location information," said Garcetti spokesperson Andrea Garcia in an email to the I-Team.
Some urgent care locations tell NBCLA they do have appointments available, but some require you first do a telemedicine appointment with a doctor to determine if you qualify for a COVID-19 test. And depending on your insurance, you could get charged for the appointment and the test.