Los Angeles is providing residents with access to free novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing whether or not they are exhibiting symptoms — making it the first major U.S. city to do so.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced milestone during his daily press conference on Wednesday while discussing how "essential" testing is to learning more about the virus and identifying cases.
"Tonight I am so proud to announce that Los Angeles will become the first major city in America to honor widescale testing to all residents with or without symptoms," Garcetti said.
"Moving forward, in the city of Los Angeles, you'll be able to — if you have symptoms or not — get tested," he said, adding that those with symptoms will have priority, but that the capacity is there for anyone who wants one.
Garcetti encouraged anyone who thinks they might have the contagious respiratory virus, those who have been around people who do, and those who simply want reassurance that they do or do not, to get a test. "These tests are free for the public," he said.
"You can't put a price on the peace of mind of knowing that you can't infect somebody around you," Garcetti said.
He added that the free testing would begin as soon as Wednesday night.
Testing had previously been restricted to people exhibiting symptoms, essential workers and those living in facilities like nursing homes, the Los Angeles Times reported.
As of Tuesday night, there have been at least 22,485 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, with 1,056 deaths related to the virus, according to data from the public health department.
Nationwide, there are more than one million confirmed cases and at least 60,931 related deaths as of Wednesday.
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