| March 23, 2020 08: 41 PM
The coronavirus task force response coordinator said Monday that new self-swab coronavirus tests will become available later this week.
“There was a breakthrough today for those of you waiting for ‘self-swabbing’ options. Those are going to be available some time later this week to be able for individuals to do their own test,” Deborah Birx said during Monday’s White House press briefing.
So far, over 250,000 people have been given coronavirus tests and have received their results, but there is still a widespread shortage of diagnostic tests. Self-swab tests would allow people to use a nasal swab while in their homes self-isolating. They would then bring the sample to a clinic or drive-through test site and receive their results that same day.
“This will expedite the testing process, of course, but it will also reduce the risk to healthcare providers for exposure to the coronavirus, and it’ll minimize the drain on personal protective equipment,” Vice President Mike Pence said Monday.
Healthcare workers, even if they have minimal exposure to potential infection, need to wear protective masks and full-body covering. Hospitals and clinics are already facing a severe shortage of required protective equipment. In fact, Dr. Craig Smith, chairman of the department of surgery at New York-Presbyterian reported Friday that protective mask consumption at the hospital has increased tenfold and that reserves are dwindling.
“NYP normally uses 4,000 non-N95 masks per day. Currently, NYP is consuming 40,000 such masks per day, which is estimated to reach 70,000 per day,” Smith said. “The entire United States strategic reserve holds only 75 million masks.”
While FEMA is in the midst of distributing about 8 million N95 protective masks and 13.3 million surgical masks, according to President Trump, physicians worry that increased manufacturing and distribution could come too late for many healthcare workers.
“We’re told that manufacturing is beginning to accelerate, but that relief is weeks away at best,” Smith said.