American health care company UnitedHealth Group is rolling out a self-administered coronavirus test. The news shared with ESSENCE this week comes as America surpasses both China and Italy for confirmed coronavirus cases.

On Monday White House officials alluded to a game-changing patient-administered COVID-19 test process during a daily coronavirus briefing. “There was a breakthrough today, and I think you’ll see this from the FDA, in — for all those of you who are waiting for self-swabbing options, those are going to be available sometime this week, to be able to — individuals do their own tests,” White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said. 

According to a press release, the test, which was developed by UnitedHealth Group and put through a trial in the state of Washington, accurately detected COVID-19 in more than 90 percent of positive patients. Researchers from UnitedHealth Group Research & Development and OptumCare say the rate is consistent with the clinician-administered tests now being used. The hope is that widespread adoption of what they’re calling a “less invasive test” will reduce exposure for health care workers and improve overall testing efficiency across the country.

UnitedHealth Group posts about promising results from a 500-person study conducted within the last week. The swab-test will hopefully reduce the rate of spread of the coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents the health care system with extraordinary challenges that need to be addressed quickly. While working on the front lines of our clinical care facilities in Washington state, Dr. Tu saw an opportunity to improve COVID-19 testing and rallied the expertise and resources of UnitedHealth Group to complete the study in less than one week,” said Ken Ehlert, chief scientific officer of UnitedHealth Group. “This is one of many ways we’re working across UnitedHealth Group, Optum and UnitedHealthcare to combat COVID-19 by providing the best care for patients, supporting the health care workforce, and enabling the health care system with new insights and solutions.”

UnitedHealth Group test to cut down on potential spread of COVID-19 to workers (like one pictured) who now administer the tests
ARLINGTON, VA – MARCH 18: A healthcare worker screens a patient for COVID-19 at a drive-through coronavirus testing site in Arlington, Virginia. Arlington County and Virginia Hospital Center have opened a temporary drive-through coronavirus testing site for Arlington residents and county employees with a letter from a licensed health-care provider. The results for patients tested are estimated to be available in 5-7 days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

UnitedHealth Group’s test comes at a critical time for health care workers across the nation. Since the start of the pandemic, a number of nurses, doctors and caretakers have fallen ill with the novel strain. Many have also become casualties of the fast-spreading strain. Though the exact number of medical professionals who have died from the virus is unknown, health care workers have been vocal about the potential implications that servicing COVID-19 patients present.

ESSENCE is committed to bringing our audience the latest facts about COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our content team is closely monitoring the developing details surrounding the virus via official sources and health care experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please continue to refresh ESSENCE’s informational hub for updates on COVID-19, as well as for tips on taking care of yourselves, your families and your communities.

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