As the world settles into life with COVID-19, treatment is becoming ever more important to stave off serious illnesses and hospitalizations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized three COVID-19 treatments: monoclonal antibodies, Paxlovid, and molnupiravir. In a unique union of telehealth services and public healthcare, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health has joined forces with the healthcare platform Healthvana to offer two of these treatments for free. This includes free delivery and free telehealth visits that are available to about 10 million residents in LA County. 

How does it work? LA County has long offered free COVID-19 tests at sites all across the area. If you test positive at a county site, you can then call the LA County Department of Public Health’s telehealth call center at 833–540–0473, regardless of insurance or citizenship status. A nurse will ask you about your symptoms and related health issues. Next, you’ll get connected to a physician who may prescribe either Paxlovid or molnupiravir to treat your COVID-19. 

If a resident tests positive for COVID-19 at one of the Healthvana-supported mobile testing centers, the results will appear in the Healthvana app. The user needs to tap through a few questions to get connected to the county’s telehealth center and go through the same process with a nurse and a doctor. The patient can pick up the medication at their local pharmacy or take advantage of free delivery within the borders of LA County. A rapid response is crucial; according to the FDA, both molnupiravir and Paxlovid should be taken within 5 days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

Removing barriers to diagnosis and treatment can help not just individual patients cope with an infection, but also aid a community in slowing the spread of the virus. Los Angeles could have a model worth replicating elsewhere.