LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As Los Angeles County reports 8,891 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths on Sunday, testing sites across the area are seeing more people looking to get tested.
Just before Christmas, the health department announced it was expanding access to free COVID testing amid greater demand around the holidays.
"Demand for COVID-19 testing is steadily increasing as county residents rush to get tested before gathering with loved ones and as a direct result of LA County's surge in new cases,'' officials said.
The changes went into effect on Friday which include:
- Extended hours of operation at sites across L.A. County
- Additional week and weekend dates
- Additional mobile testing units in hard-hit areas
- Re-launch of Holiday Home Test Collection Program with new guidelines to reach more people and make it easier to get tested.
On Sunday, the number of county residents hospitalized with COVID increased to 904, up from 849 the previous day, according to the latest state figures. Of those patients, 188 were in intensive care, up one from Saturday.
The number of hospitalized COVID patients has been rising in recent weeks, after falling as low as 551 in November.
The latest figures come amid a surge in reported cases that has the county's top health official warning that infections could reach near-record levels by the end of the year.
Last week, President Joe Biden promised to distribute millions of free COVID tests and open more testing sites.
At-home tests sold at drugstores like Walgreens and CVS have been sold out for days as people rushed to get tested ahead of holiday gatherings. Walgreens is limiting people to four tests per purchase in stores and online and CVS is limiting people to six kits per purchase.