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King County group sends out at-home tests ‘to better predict’ spread of virus

SCAN is looking to send at-home test kits. (Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network)

Countries that have been successful in their fights against coronavirus have made a point to test both sick and healthy citizens. That’s something a local coalition is looking to apply here in King County.

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The organization — called the Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) — is a partnership between the Seattle Flu Study and Seattle-King County Public Health, billing itself as “an innovative disease surveillance platform that will allow Public Health to gain a clearer picture of how the COVID-19 virus is spreading through our community.”

To that end, SCAN is looking for volunteers to send at-home test kits. The goal: To better understand how and where coronavirus is spreading in Washington.

Medical professionals in the U.S. have long emphasized the importance of testing any and everybody as a means to curbing the spread of the virus.

“The key to stopping an epidemic is contact tracing, and finding those infected as soon as possible, not three or four weeks after the fact,” Dr. Eric Ding told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula show in early March.

That’s largely due to the fact that coronavirus can spread silently through people who are asymptomatic, making it difficult to isolate and contain cases without the proper testing infrastructure.

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Iceland — which recently was able to test almost its entire population — found that roughly half of all positive coronavirus tests were from people presenting with no symptoms at all, while one-third presented with delayed symptoms.

SCAN’s mission isn’t quite as expansive, but it does hope that by testing healthy people too, it can use that data to “better predict the number of people who may be infected but unrecognized.”

“Understanding how COVID-19 is being transmitted, even among those who have not yet sought medical care and would not otherwise be tested, will help us determine if community measures such as social distancing are working, and whether we need to adapt our guidance,” SCAN states on its website.

If you would like to receive an at-home test kit, go to SCAN’s website here to see if you qualify.

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