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FAQ

These FAQs aim to clarify the SCAN study and our researchers' role in supporting public health’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. As new information becomes available, we will update this list to reflect the latest details.

The greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network – SCAN for short – is a group of medical, public health and research organizations working together to understand the spread of COVID-19 in the greater Seattle region. The goal of SCAN is to understand the outbreak more completely and, along with other data sources, help inform public health decisions.

The SCAN study is a partnership between the Brotman Baty Institute, University of Washington Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children’s Hospital, working in coordination with Public Health — Seattle & King County. SCAN relies on data modeling support from the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM).

SCAN is funded by Gates Ventures (the private office of Bill Gates) and receives technical guidance from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other public health authorities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta) is providing in-person technical assistance to help launch SCAN. Amazon provides infrastructure and logistics capability for this effort in the greater Seattle area, along with other delivery partners.

To track the spread of active COVID-19 infections, the SCAN study will collect nasal swabs from a sample of people across Seattle and King County, working to mirror the area’s population as closely as possible. We’ll collect swabs from both those who are healthy and those who feel sick and will also allocate a portion of our testing capacity for children, high risk populations, under-represented communities, and family members and close contacts of SCAN participants who test positive for COVID-19. The results of these tests will help us understand the outbreak more completely and, along with other data sources, help inform public health decisions.

People in the greater Seattle/King County area can sign up for SCAN via this website. Here’s how it works:

  1. Answer a few questions, and request a kit via our survey.
  2. If possible, we’ll send a free swab kit to your home.
  3. Use the kit to complete an at- home nasal swab and follow directions to return it to our labs.
  4. Your swab will be tested. You can find out if your results are positive or negative on the confidential SCAN website. If your results show that your test is positive, that means you may have coronavirus and you will be contacted by a healthcare member of our research team,

If you think you have coronavirus, contact a doctor or other healthcare provider for guidance. SCAN is not a replacement for medical care, nor a program to provide a personal diagnosis to individuals. We are studying the spread of coronavirus in our community, and providing data to help public health teams make decisions. If you’re severely ill, such as having trouble breathing, please contact a doctor or healthcare provider right away.

If you think you have coronavirus, stay home, contact your healthcare provider, and follow public health guidance. We invite people who are not feeling well to sign up for the SCAN study, but SCAN is not a replacement for medical care. We are researching the spread of coronavirus in our community, and providing data to help public health teams make informed decisions.

Anyone in the Greater Seattle/King County area may be eligible to contribute a nasal swab to SCAN, including children. For children under the age of 18, we require a parent or legal guardian to complete the sign up and permissions process on their behalf.

We’re asking people in our community to sign up for the SCAN study to help protect our community. Our research is designed to understand where and how the virus is spreading—whether people show symptoms or not—and which communities are most affected. These insights will help our scientists and our local public officials understand the outbreak more completely and, along with other data sources, inform public health decisions. We believe this can also help lead the way forward for the rest of the country.

If your sample tests positive for coronavirus (shows that coronavirus was detected) you will be notified by a healthcare memeber of our research team. Your results will also be available in more detail on our secure results portal. As a reminder, SCAN is a virus tracking system—not a test for diagnosing individuals—so we can’t guarantee when you’ll receive results.

If your sample tests positive for coronavirus, you will be notified by a member of the SCAN research team. They will connect you with information and resources to help you recover and protect your friends, family, and community. However, participation is not a replacement for medical care. Those who do not feel well or suspect they might have COVID-19 should stay home, contact their healthcare provider, and follow public health guidance.

You can find out if your results are positive or negative on the confidential SCAN website. If we did not find the novel coronavirus, it could mean you do not have the virus, you have the virus but it was not in the swab you sent, or our test did not find it.

As a reminder, SCAN is a virus tracking system—not a test for diagnosing individuals—so we can’t guarantee when you’ll receive results. If you’re severely ill, such as having trouble breathing, please contact a doctor or healthcare provider right away.

If you believe that you have been exposed to coronavirus, please stay home, contact your healthcare provider, and follow public health guidance.

Codes may be provided to increase participation across King County. This allows SCAN to understand how the virus may be spreading across the county. If you don’t have a code, you may still request a swab kit.

COVID-19 is a new virus and there is evidence that it can spread even among those who don’t show symptoms. Testing people who aren’t feeling sick can help us learn more about who can get infected and ways to slow transmission of the virus.

If you are concerned about the novel coronavirus, please check the latest public health recommendations to monitor your health and avoid spreading the disease to others if you get sick. You can start with our resources page or go directly to the Public Health – Seattle & King County Coronavirus Hub, the Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus Hub, the CDC Coronavirus Hub, and/or the WHO Coronavirus Hub.

If you are severely ill, including fever or shortness of breath, or are in need of medical advice, call a doctor or other healthcare provider immediately.

The SCAN study supports but is not a part of Public Health – Seattle & King County, which is leading the public health response to coronavirus for all of King County.

It is completely free to participate in the SCAN study. You do not need to have health insurance in order to be tested. Participating in SCAN’s research will not affect your health insurance and all the information we collect will be confidential. SCAN is not part of your medical care, and will not be shared with your healthcare providers or insurance companies unless you choose to share information with a provider on your own.

SCAN uses at-home nasal swabs to test for presence of the SARS-COV-2 virus during active infection, in an effort to provide a near-real time snapshot of the virus in our community. We do not do any serological sampling for previous infections (antibody testing) at this time.

Your privacy is extremely important to us! Only the research team will have access to the information that you provide. No data directly linked to you will ever be made publicly available. To protect access to your results, you will be given a personal barcode.

All study information will be stored in a secure, confidential manner. We will also store aggregated information separately from your personal information in order to understand trends in how coronavirus is spreading.

Washington State law also requires that we report certain conditions (including COVID-19) to Local Health Jurisdictions and the Department of Health. If your sample tests positive for one of these conditions, these organizations may contact you to ask you additional questions. They will keep your information private.