Rain, holiday closures hit COVID-19 testing sites across L.A. County amid surge

Just ahead of the holiday weekend and amid a surge of new coronavirus cases, a winter storm in Los Angeles County is forcing some coronavirus testing and vaccine sites to head indoors or close because of the rain.

Los Angeles County reported 6,500 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a staggering jump from the previous week and solidifying the dominance of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Now, the rain is complicating the logistics of testing residents across the region, with most outdoor operations forced to relocate or wait until after the holiday weekend.

The city of Long Beach closed its outdoor testing and vaccine sites and will reopen next week. The Pacific Coast Campus, Long Beach City College and Veterans Memorial Stadium sites will be closed because of the rain, the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services announced. The outdoor testing site at Houghton Park will be moved indoors. Testing will be available Thursday and Friday, but the vaccination site will be closed Friday for Christmas Eve.

People line-up for a coronavirus test at Union Station on Dec. 21.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Coronavirus testing sites throughout Los Angeles County will be closed Saturday — Christmas Day — including the walk-up kiosk at Union Station.

The surge in new cases this week signals a difficult holiday season for Angelenos, said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer Wednesday.

“If our case numbers continue to increase at a rapid pace over this week and next, we could be looking at case numbers we have never seen before,” Ferrer said.

The massive jump in cases, Ferrer said, reflects increased circulation of the Omicron variant, which has spread rapidly since its presence was first confirmed in California three weeks ago.

“The reality is that the vast majority of folks testing positive today are infected with Omicron, a more easily transmitted strain of the virus,” Ferrer said.

She added, though, that it’s unvaccinated residents who remain particularly exposed to the worst effects of COVID-19. From Dec. 5 to 11, unvaccinated Angelenos were five times likelier to get infected, 21 times more likely to require hospitalization and 18 times likelier to die.

Times staff writer Luke Money contributed to this report.

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