LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The city of Los Angeles has teamed up with the county and the University of Southern California on a pilot program for a rapid coronavirus test.
“Today, boiled down, is about making sure that we can test people more quickly in a way that will allow us to be able to develop protocols to hopefully put even more people back to work, back into schools and to keep our recovery path moving forward,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday.
About 750 Los Angeles firefighters will be among the first in the nation to try the rapid test.
“The speed would be nice,” Nick Prange, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson, said. “I know so many family members that waited five to seven days, and by that time the information doesn’t matter too much after a week.”
The frontline workers will help determine if the 15-minute, self-administered nasal swab test should be rolled out across the city and county.
“Self testing, or testing at home, can be a game changer,” Dr. Neeraj Sood, a professor at USC, said. “It can dramatically improve access to testing, it can move testing out of hospitals and clinics.”
The rapid tests use an app with image recognition technology along with the nasal swab and testing kit to not only get results faster, but also at a fraction of the cost — just $5 compared to the $100 or more for the current tests.
“Launching this rapid antigen testing pilot is a remarkable milestone,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti, who also performed his own nasal swab Tuesday, said the test could help health departments identify positive cases much sooner and reduce the risk of transmission.
The second phase of the pilot program will begin in about one week and will look at the accuracy of the rapid tests in screening school children and also use volunteers at drive-thru testing sites.