A few of this week’s big announcements inCOVID-19-related news:
California Expands COVID-19 Testing
While priority testing for COVID-19 is still being given to those with symptoms, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week that testing is being expanded to allow screening for both health care workers and residents of congregate living facilities who currently do not show symptoms of the disease. These two groups will be considered of secondary importance, however, with first priority still being given to symptomatic patients and health care workers, and those in particularly high-risk situations. Here are the new testing priority groupings, from the California Department of Health:
- Hospitalized patients
- Symptomatic healthcare workers
- Persons identified for testing by public health contact investigations and disease control activities in high risk settings, including both residents and staff (e.g., congregate living facilities, correctional facilities)
- Screening of asymptomatic residents of congregate living facilities prior to admission or re-admission to congregate living facility (e.g., a hospitalized patient will be screened for COVID-19 prior to discharge to a congregate living facility)
- Screening of asymptomatic healthcare workers (e.g., skilled nursing facility workers, hospital workers)
- Symptomatic persons in essential health and public safety occupations (e.g., first responders, law enforcement, congregate living facility workers)
- Symptomatic persons >65 years of age or with chronic medical conditions
- Symptomatic persons in essential infrastructure occupations (e.g., utility workers, food supply workers, other public employees)
- Community-based testing of all low-risk symptomatic persons
- Surveillance testing of asymptomatic persons
Also, while these guidelines have been established at the state level, it’s worth noting that the Los Angeles City and County testing website still says:
“At this time, testing is only for people with symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can now book a same or next day appointment.”
CD4 Senior Outreach Program
On Tuesday, April 21, City Council Member David Ryu announced a new Senior Outreach Program for Council District 4, which will connect volunteers with seniors to help with things like grocery or prescription pickups, and even just simple check-ins and friendly conversation.
According to a statement about the program from Ryu’s office, the program will be “managed by Mon Ami, a digital volunteer-to-senior match platform that recently partnered with the City of San Francisco.” It will be “run in partnership with LA Works.”
“Our seniors are vulnerable not just to COVID-19, but to social isolation and difficulty getting their basic needs,” said Ryu in the statement. “Through our Senior Outreach Program, we are calling seniors across Council District Four directly and connecting them with volunteers who can pick up a prescription, buy groceries, or check in with a friendly conversation.”
Also in the statement, Mon Ami co-founder Madeline Dangerfield-Cha said, “Even before COVID-19, seniors were at great mental and physical health risk due to social isolation; we can use our technology to show these individuals how much they matter and that we are here for them, no matter what.”
Though the program, volunteers will use a smart-phone app “to call isolated seniors for friendly check-ins and to coordinate errand runs for groceries, prescriptions, and other essentials.” The program is currently seeking interested volunteers. (If you’re interested in applying, click the link to learn more.)
New LA Animal Services Lost & Found Service
Also on Tuesday, the LA Department of Animal Services announced its new “Lost and Found Pets” service, a new Facebook-based resource to help reunite lost pets with their owners. The page “will feature daily posts from residents who have either lost or found a pet, as well as include updates on the pets that have been reunited with owners.”
In the past, people who lose animals were required to notify one of the city’s six shelters, and those who find animals to bring them in to one of the shelters. This has become more difficult, however, during the COVID-19 “Safer at Home” period, when two of the shelters have been closed and the others have reduced hours and public contact. The new Facebook page will allow city residents to post their own lost and found notices in a central location.
In a press release about the new service, the Department said:
“In addition to posting on LA City Lost and Found Pets, LA Animal Services also suggests that individuals who find a lost pet, and who are able to do so, provide temporary home care for these lost or stray companion animals through our Shelter-at-Home program. Shelter-at-Home expands LA Animal Services’ foster program and increases community involvement in helping find animals’ owners, and enabling pets to be held in less stressful environments.
To learn more about the Shelter-at-Home program, please visit laanimalservices.com/found-pet.
If you cannot provide temporary foster care, DO NOT LEAVE the dog or cat in an unsafe place. Please call 888-452-7381 right away and make arrangements to get them to the closest Animal Services Center.
In addition to going to LA City Lost and Found Pets to try and locate a lost or found pet, you may also visit laanimalservices.com/about-animals/lost-pet/ if you have lost a pet or laanimalservices.com/found-pet/ if you have found a stray pet.”