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UnitedHealth coronavirus self-swab testing rolls out in hard-hit Seattle

Self-administered tests can spare health care workers from exposure to the virus

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UnitedHealth Group rolled out a self-swab coronavirus test in Seattle on Monday and hopes to roll it out to more states as soon as possible.

Self-administered tests can spare health care workers, who normally administer such tests, from germs spread by a patient's cough or sneeze.

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UnitedHealth released details of its 500-patient study that found self-swab tests to be as accurate as physician-administered tests on Wednesday.

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"We know that broad, rapid and accurate testing is essential to addressing the COVID-19 crisis, yet the current clinician-administered process significantly limits testing capacity, puts frontline health care workers at risk of COVID-19 exposure, and is unpleasant for patients," lead researcher Dr. Yuan-Po Tu said.

In this March 17 file photo, Laurie Kuypers, a registered nurse, reaches into a car to take a nasopharyngeal swab from a patient at a drive-through COVID-19 coronavirus testing station for University of Washington Medicine patients in Seattle. (AP Ph

The findings prompted the Food and Drug Administration to update its guidance on self-collection earlier this week.

"Based on available data, FDA believes that, for symptomatic patients, nasal swabs could be used that access just the front of the nose rather than the depth of the nasal cavity," the FDA wrote on its website.

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Washington state has already recorded at least 133 virus deaths, second only to New York with more than 366 deaths.

The U.S. is ramping up testing in hopes of fighting the deadly virus after fumbling its testing rollout.

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