Public Health – Seattle & King County announced that cases of COVID-19 that might have gone undetected are now being identified across the 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 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 & 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 health care provider or occupational health services at your workplace, there is COVID-19 testing available.

Please go to our 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.

Public education campaign videos available in 21 languages

Access to information is vital so that everyone understands why staying at home remains the best way to decrease illness and death in our community. To support our residents who speak languages other than English, Public Health has released public education campaign videos in 21 languages. View the videos on Public Health’s YouTube page, or find them on Public Health’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

In addition, the following resources are available in multiple languages:

Case updates

Daily totals for new COVID-19 cases and deaths are available on Public Health’s Data Dashboard webpage, which updates as soon as data are available, typically between 1-3 p.m.

Isolation and quarantine facilities update

Isolation and quarantine is a proven public health practice for reducing the spread of disease. Examples of people who may need this assistance include people who cannot safely isolate from a family member who is elderly or medically fragile, or people experiencing homelessness. Individuals can only be placed into the King County sites after a health professional with Public Health has determined that they need isolation or quarantine.

Seventy-four people are currently staying in King County isolation, quarantine and recovery facilities. The number of residents at King County’s isolation and quarantine sites is included in regular updates provided by Public Health. No other identifying or personal information will be provided.

Additional information

  • Information about COVID-19 and the response in King County, be sure to check our webpage:
  • Public Health publishes new information frequently through the Public Health Insider blog – please consider becoming a subscriber by choosing the option to “Follow Blog Via Email.”

Scott Schaefer

Founder/Publisher/Editor. Three-time National Emmy Award winning Writer (“Bill Nye the Science Guy”), Director, Producer, Journalist and more...