In home testing helps reveal extent of COVID-19 infections

Saturday, April 18, 2020

SCAN test kits are used at home

Cases of COVID-19 that might have gone undetected are now being identified across King County, thanks to volunteer participants using a new at-home test kit to collect a nasal sample and return it to a lab for testing.

Public Health — Seattle and King County and the team behind the Seattle Flu Study launched the greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network—or SCAN for short, on March 23, 2020.

SCAN is the first COVID-19 surveillance program in the U.S. to use “swab-and-send” test kits.

These kits allow individuals to collect their own nasal sample and return it to a lab for testing without leaving home to observe physical distancing guidance and reduce exposure to others.

In its first 18 days, SCAN tested 4,092 samples. Nearly two-thirds of the samples were returned by individuals who in the seven days prior to enrollment had reported COVID-like illness (fever, cough, or shortness of breath). However, more than three-quarters of these individuals indicated they had not yet sought medical care.

“SCAN is a way for King County residents to help us better understand the true extent of the outbreak,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle and King County. 
“As more representative samples from people all across the region are collected and tested, the findings will become increasingly valuable,” he said, emphasizing the importance of efforts to ensure greater diversity among SCAN participants

SCAN testing among those reporting COVID-like illness returned 44 (1.6%) positive results for COVID-19 — a proportion lower than that being returned through testing within the medical system, but one that may still represent thousands of unrecognized infections in the community.

Testing resources for first responders and health care workers

If you are a first responder or a health care worker and are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (typically fever, cough, or shortness of breath) and cannot access testing through your healthcare provider or occupational health services at your workplace, there is COVID-19 testing available.

Go to the COVID-19 website under “Resources for service providers and health care providers,” for more information and to complete a survey to see if you meet criteria for these tests, or call 206-477-3977.


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