Omicron surge drives high demand for COVID-19 testing

The community-organized nonprofit relief effort, commonly known as CORE, announced on Wednesday that it would expand COVID-19 testing capacity in Los Angeles amid the growing cases caused by the Omicron variant.

Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported 6,509 new cases of COVID-19, more than double the number on Tuesday and “one of the steepest increases we’ve ever seen during the pandemic,” said the director of public health Barbara Ferrer. 16 other COVID-related deaths have also been reported, and 162 more confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

RELATED: LA County Reports Over 6,500 New COVID Cases Daily Amid Omicron Outbreak

To meet demand during the push, CORE, co-founded by actor Sean Penn, hopes to increase testing to a minimum of 1,000 daily tests at its Los Angeles sites, from an average of 250 tests per day before the Omicron push.

CORE said it will meet demand by adding two new sites per week during the holidays. The association currently operates 11 testing clinics, both on fixed and mobile sites. He hopes to increase to 13 units by December 30 and to 15 by the end of the first week of January.

Details on the location of the new sites were not available. CORE is also working to deliver rapid testing at eight of the sites by the first week of January.

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“The recent surge of COVID-19 cases fueled by Omicron is no surprise to us at CORE. Less than 3% of people in low-income countries have been vaccinated, and until our world leaders continue to prioritize immunization of the world’s most underserved populations, new variants will emerge and flare-ups will follow. CORE said in a statement provided to City News Service.

“We are working with our regional partners to ensure we provide access to the most marginalized and vulnerable communities, where people cannot afford to spend three hours in line to get tested,” added the ‘association.

CORE partners include Pasadena Job Center, YMCA, Girls Club of LA, Los Angeles Health Services, Alma Family Center, City of Santa Fe Springs, Los Angeles County Libraries, Herald Christian Center, Union Station, Echo Park Residents, LA City Parks and Recreation, the Mayor’s Office, LA Apparel, NoHo Alliance, Graff Lab, Flow Health, Carbon Health, Fulgent, LA County and Curogram.

CORE was founded by Penn and Ann Lee in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. During the pandemic, he partnered with the city to provide free tests, vaccines and support services to vulnerable communities in Los Angeles. It has expanded operations in the United States and abroad and administered more than 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccines and more than 5.9 million COVID-19 tests globally as of December 2021. More than information can be found at coreresponse.org.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced an effort to expand access to testing statewide, primarily by increasing operating hours at state-run sites. The state has nearly 6,300 testing sites, he said.

“We were able to determine that 90% of Californians (…) have access to a test site located within 30 minutes of their home, 60% only 15 minutes from their home. We have 257 OptumServe partners, and we are working with them to extend the hours of operation, to extend them, especially where the demand is high and there are bottlenecks, ”Newsom said.

He urged residents who have tried to procure hard-to-get take-out tests from pharmacies and other retail outlets to visit the state’s MyTurn website for information on the free tests available.

People can visit myturn.ca.gov for more information.

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