Garcetti orders LA nursing homes to provide monthly COVID-19 testing

Skilled nursing facilities in Los Angeles will be required to provide diagnostic testing for COVID-19 for their employees, residents and contractors under an emergency order issued on Friday by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Nursing facilities, senior living homes and other facilities that care for people 65 and older have been potential "death traps," Garcetti said Thursday, and he said more than 30% of all deaths related to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County have occurred at nursing facilities.

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"Please, try to make those relationships, get that testing through health care providers (into) these facilities, but we are to help you if that falls short," Garcetti said, adding there are about 80 nursing facilities in the city alone.

Garcetti said the facilities can request assistance with testing from the city's Emergency Operations Center if they're unable to obtain it themselves. The tests will be required to be administered at least once a month.

This week, members of the California National Guard were deployed to four Los Angeles County nursing homes to assist with operations, mainly due to a lack of adequate staffing as a result of the virus' spread, according to county health officials.

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Responding to questions from reporters during his daily coronavirus briefing Friday, Garcetti said he would welcome any assistance from the National Guard as well.

"We will take help wherever we can get it," Garcetti said.

The rapid response testing teams will be doubled from three to six beginning Monday, and they will respond to nursing facilities if someone is showing symptoms of COVID-19.

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Garcetti reiterated that people are not allowed to visit Los Angeles beaches or recreation facilities this weekend, as temperatures are forecast to rise above 90 degrees.

The recorded temperature in downtown Los Angeles Friday tied its record for April 24 of 93 degrees, which the area last recorded in 2001, according to the National Weather Service.

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Some police officers will be deployed around the city to ensure people are adhering to social distancing and not gathering in crowds, Garcetti said.