LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles County's local emergency declarations due to COVID-19 have been lifted, resulting in the closure of county-run virus- testing centers and prompting a warning for Medi-Cal beneficiaries to ensure their case information is up to date.
Medi-Cal coverage will not stop with the lifting of the declarations, but the county Department of Public Social Services will be re-evaluating cases to ensure people are still eligible for the program, which provides health coverage for those with limited income and resources.
"Therefore, it is essential that beneficiaries ensure that the department has their most updated contact information, including names, addresses, telephone numbers and email address," according to a statement from DPSS.
County officials said local beneficiaries will be receiving renewal forms in the mail, and residents should complete and return them as quickly as possible.
Roughly 3.7 million Los Angeles County residents are covered through Medi-Cal.
With the county's emergency declarations ending, the county Department of Health Services will be closing its COVID-19 PCR testing centers at the end of the day Friday.
"The COVID-19 testing centers were established to provide residents with free and easy access to COVID-19 PCR tests, at the early stages of the pandemic when testing supplies were extremely limited," Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the county Department of Health Services, said in a statement.
"Today, COVID tests are widely available. Rapid antigen tests are available at most pharmacies, through primary care providers and urgent care locations, and in a variety of other community locations. Health care providers also have the ability to perform PCR tests for patients when needed."
Ghaly noted that over the last nine months, there has been a 94% decrease in demand for in-person testing at DHS testing centers.
"While the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we do ask that you continue to take simple and effective preventive measures to mitigate the spread of the virus," she said.
DHS-operated hospitals and clinics will continue to offer testing for people without insurance.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Friday she is confident the county's COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations will remain low into the spring, although she urged people to continue to take precautions against spread of the virus.
"With no new strains proliferating, I'm optimistic that we'll remain in the low community level this spring, and my hope is that our hospitalization and death rates continue to decline," she said. "I would love to see our lowest ever numbers since the pandemic started."
The county issued revised health guidance for schools on Friday. The rules require school employees who test positive for the virus to isolate at home for at least five days. They can return to the workplace for days six through 10, but only if they are fever-free and wearing a mask around others.
Students who test positive also must isolate at home for five days, and can return to school for days six through 10, but they should also wear a well-fitting mask when indoors around others, according to the Department of Public Health.
Schools must notify employees who were exposed to a COVID patient and provide them with free testing. Schools are strongly recommended to notify parents of students who were exposed to a COVID case at school, although they are not required to do so.