Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday he has convened a national coalition of scientists, bioscience firms and government leaders to explore and develop rapid at-home coronavirus testing methods.
"Last week, I brought together this group for the first time ... a grassroots effort to accelerate the science of testing so that we can know where outbreaks are quickly and, within days, bring those numbers down and potentially quickly get our children back to school," Garcetti said during a COVID-19 update from City Hall.
The working group is being facilitated by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Governors Association, which Garcetti said also intends to push the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to accelerate the approvals for at-home testing.
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The mayor said at-home test kits can be manufactured at a low cost, although the product still hasn't cleared regulatory hurdles.
"We're calling on the (Food and Drug) Administration and our federal government, from both parties in Congress, to work together and to mandate insurance coverage for rapid test strips nationwide, so we can be reimbursed for these tests,'' Garcetti said. "It still may be some weeks or even a couple months off, but we need to find even better solutions now."
Starting Friday, Garcetti said the city's COVID-19 testing sites will reduce their hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until the end of the summer to compensate for warmer temperatures.
The Hanson Dam and Warner Center sites will be closed Thursday through Monday due to the high heat forecast, but Garcetti said there will be increased testing availability at Dodger Stadium, the Crenshaw testing sites and Veterans' Administration center in Westwood.
The walk-up testing site at Echo Park will move Friday across the street to the Edendale Library, which will have the capacity to serve 400 people a day, half from reservations and half from walk-ins, Garcetti said.
The mayor made a renewed call for people to avoid large gatherings and parties, particularly with Labor Day weekend approaching, noting that the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holiday weekends contributed to upticks in virus cases due to unauthorized gatherings.
Garcetti last week authorized the Department of Water and Power to cut off utilities to properties that host raucous house parties, but he said that tactic wasn't used in any cases last weekend.
The mayor also announced a resource website for people to find financial assistance through various sources amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The website, laconnected.la, is intended to help people who have lost all or some of their sources of income.