The Los Angeles Police Department wants to give a rapid-result test to everyone its officers arrest to check for the coronavirus and is pushing city officials to secure the equipment to do so.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore told the Police Department’s civilian oversight body that he has asked City Hall to secure a rapid-result testing system capable of determining within 15 minutes whether people are infected with the coronavirus.
Such systems exist, though their accuracy has been questioned.
Right now, jails are testing all new arrivals, but results take days to come back, Moore said. The delayed results give the department a “backwards look” at exposure, but rapid-result testing would provide real-time data that could help the department isolate sick detainees, keep others incarcerated in local jails safe and quickly alert officers to any potential exposure, Moore said.
The need for such equipment in Los Angeles, and particularly for those coming into contact with the criminal justice system, is not in question. Already, more than 350 inmates in L.A. County jails have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 100 LAPD officers and staff have tested positive. As of Tuesday, the Police Department had 125 personnel at home, either because they are symptomatic or had close contact with an infected person.
Still, it’s unclear whether such rapid-result test machines are coming, or if their test results could even be trusted.
Though Moore told the Police Commission on Tuesday that “the effort of the city is to acquire four” of the rapid-result test machines, and then place them at detainee intake locations around the city, the purchase of such machines remains in doubt.
After days of questioning about the status of such testing, Alex Comisar, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said only that Garcetti “is committed to expanding testing in any way we can, especially among vulnerable populations,” and that his administration “will continue looking into this and other testing options as we continue our fight against the spread of COVID-19.”
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