Supervisor Solis’ Statement on LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner to Test for COVID-19

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis released the following statement after the Board of Supervisors approved her motion directing pertinent County Departments to develop protocols to determine who among the recently deceased should be tested for COVID-19:

“My office has heard from families who have been left wondering if their loved ones passed away from COVID-19. Without any options for testing, many families are left without answers. In these cases, family members may not know if they have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“With strict adherence to safety measures, postmortem COVID-19 testing can play an important role in understanding LA County’s unexplained deaths. This could also help us uncover important clues about the spread of the virus, and it can help with contact tracing. In this pandemic, many people who fell ill stayed home and died at home to avoid local hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

“Medical examiners and coroners can step in by investigating and determining the cause of deaths that were unexpected and occurred at home. They could provide us answers about how people died and if those deaths were related to COVID-19.

“We are asking our Medical Examiner-Coroner, and other health departments, to determine guidelines for identifying which cases of recently deceased individuals can be tested, especially in cases where the Medical Examiner-Coroner was not initially involved. This could give our public health experts a clearer picture of the extent of the spread of this virus. Allowing LA County’s Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner to test for COVID-19 will give us insights on this contagious virus, and it could bring closure to grieving families left wondering why their loved ones died while at home.”

Today’s Board motion also calls for the development of a website or phone number where people can seek additional information or have their cases assessed. In addition, this motion calls for a 14-day report back with recommendations.