Los Angeles becomes the first major city in the US to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at a Los Angeles County Health Department press conference on the novel coronavirus, (COVID-19)on March 4, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Los Angeles is the first city in the United States to offer coronavirus testing for anyone regardless of whether they have symptoms, Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

But those with symptoms will have the first priority, he added. 

Los Angeles has the capacity to conduct roughly 9% of all tests in America, he told reporters. 

In other regions in the state, efforts are underway to understand the spread of the virus by testing those who aren’t actively experiencing symptoms. 

Bolinas was the first town to offer widespread testing to residents. The effort, which kicked off earlier this month, is part of a research project put together by the Marin County community of Bolinas and the University of California, San Francisco.

And earlier this week, the University of California, San Francisco launched an effort of its own to offer diagnostic and antibody Covid-19 testing to 5,700 residents who live in a specific section of the Mission District, San Francisco’s densest neighborhood.The initiative, which is being done through a partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, is intended to gather data on the prevalence of Covid-19 in the area.

Across the country, states say that Covid-19 testing is increasing but there still aren’t sufficient tests available. As the United States starts to re-open, medical experts say that testing will need to pickup speed, alongside contact tracing and other efforts to quickly isolate those who might be contagious before they can spread the virus to others. 

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