With the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus pushing COVID-19 cases higher in Los Angeles, the City of Beverly Hills will hold a pop-up vaccine clinic for employees on Jan. 5. The clinic, which will set up shop beside the Civic Center on Rexford Drive, will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Even with early evidence of omicron’s infectiousness, the rapidity of the new wave has startled public health officials and experts. Out of nearly 10 million tests reported on Dec. 28, 15% returned positive results, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health). The figure represents a tripling of test positivity since mid-December, “indicating surging transmission across the county,” Public Health said in a statement.
Multiple early studies have found that infections from the omicron variant tend to result in milder symptoms and lower rates of hospitalization than the delta variant. Still, though, “the current rise in hospitalizations is a cause for concern,” Public Health said, with a 30% rise in hospitalization since last Tuesday.
“As we approach the new year, with the staggering reality that over 27,000 LA County residents have lost their lives to COVID-19, we extend our thoughts and prayers to those who have lost their loved ones,” Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “And while we all wish that 2022 would begin without the continued tragedy of serious illness and death associated with COVID, we are instead facing the prospect of an alarming surge that requires every person to act with intentionality: get vaccinated and boosted, get tested, and please, always wear a mask around others. These are the tools we have to try to keep each other safe over the holidays.”
The general public has multiple options for receiving vaccines throughout Beverly Hills, including ACE Medical Pharmacy on Wilshire Boulevard, CVS on Wilshire, Hepps Prescription Pharmacy on South La Cienega, Rite Aid on North Canon Drive, and Mickey Fine Pharmacy on North Roxbury Drive.
With every cough or scratchy throat suddenly suspect, the omicron surge has also ramped up demand for testing. Two forms of testing exist for COVID-19, rapid antigen testing and PCR testing, each with drawbacks and advantages. Antigen tests can be administered at home with results in as little as 15 minutes, making them ideal for confirming whether a sore throat or fever is the result of COVID-19 or another seasonal illness. However, antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests. Add to that, the increased demand has made the tests scarce.
PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is a laboratory procedure that amplifies genetic signals in a sample to determine whether someone has COVID-19. The tests are better at catching asymptomatic cases or confirming positive results from an antigen test. What you get in accuracy, you lose in time and convenience. PCR tests take a few hours to a few days to complete, depending on the lab and the demand.
Free testing options are limited in and around Beverly Hills. DoctorNow at 181 N. Robertson Blvd. offers free PCR testing regardless of insurance status. Results typically come back the day after testing, but DoctorNow offers expedited services for $120, according to its website. DoctorNow does not accept appointments and takes walk-ins only. For wait times, you can call in advance at 424-249-3038.