NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Health care professionals and first responders have been putting their lives on the line combating the COVID-19 crisis. Now, a new FDA approved at-home testing kit is aimed at keeping them safe.
The new testing kit for COVID-19 includes a q-tip style nasal cotton swab that users mail to the lab.
"It's meant to be used for first-responders and healthcare workers who have some symptoms that has led them to be concerned," said Dr. David Aronoff, infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt, "to be able to be tested at their own convenience and get an answer quickly is really important."
Dr. Aronoff says this is a great advancement but it still highlights the need for more access to testing.
"When we test people who only have symptoms, we only get a picture of tip of iceberg," said Dr. Aronoff, "but the majority of those infected have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all and it's those that we need to do more testing for so we can look under the waterline and see how deep the iceberg goes."
Tina Gerardi with the Tennessee Nurses Association agrees. She says costs and limited supplies are two factors that can hinder people getting access to testing. The kits are $119 each. Gerardi says while there’s still more that can be done to improve pandemic response, this is a great step forward.
"This will help us filter out who has a false negative, or a false positive as well," said Gerardi, executive director of TNA.
Remember, this is not meant for the every day public to use. Gerardi says this will also reduce user error. She adds that the best way to slow the spread is practicing social distancing and good hygiene. This includes for next week, when we slowly re-open the state.
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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.
What are the symptoms?
The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of the following symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.
The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.