Editor’s Note: On March 21, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its Emergency Use Authorization guidelines. The announcement barred private labs from collecting at-home samples from customers. As reported by TechCrunch, this means startups like Carbon, Health Nurx, and Everlywell (in the story below) have to discontinue their testing programs immediately. You can read more about that here. As of March 23, Everlywell said on Twitter it is still committed to making a COVID-19 test available to consumers. The team is “encouraged by the most recent WH briefing,” and is “actively working with the FDA on a path forward for COVID-19 sample self-collection in a home setting.” Right now, its COVID-19 test is only available to qualifying hospitals and healthcare companies that provide the test for free to healthcare workers and symptomatic patients.
Dallas native Julia Cheek’s home health testing company Everlywell will be offering at-home tests for COVID-19 starting on March 23.
COVID-19 testing has been difficult for many to receive due to tests initially having to be provided by the Centers for Disease Control and conducted at state and public health labs. On February 19, these restrictions were relaxed with certified labs allowed to develop and distribute COVID-19 tests, which is where Everlywell comes in.
The Austin-based company, which was originally founded in Dallas, offers validated at-home testing kits for general wellness, women’s and men’s health, energy and weight, sexual health—and soon, COVID-19.
Here’s how the COVID-19 test kit will work: In order to buy a test, a telemedicine doctor can prescribe it through PWNHealth. Then the test kit will be sent within two days for $135. After the samples have been collected and mailed, they will be sent overnight to one of several FDA-approved labs for the test to be performed within 72 hours.
Results will be digitally sent to users within days, according to the website. People with positive results will be offered a telehealth consultation, while the results will also be communicated to all mandated federal and state reporting agencies.
Around 30,000 COVID-19 tests are ready to be sent out, with hopes to ramp up to 250,000 tests a week, Cheek told TIME magazine.
Everlywell says the COVID-19 test kits will not bring any profits to the company, and will be covered by participating HSA and FSA providers. It has also reached out to government officials and public health departments to see if the test can be made available for free, according to its website.
Cheek originally founded Everlywell in Dallas in 2015, then moved the company to Austin the following year. In 2017, Cheek appeared on “Shark Tank” and was offered a $1 million line of credit at eight percent interest in return for a five percent equity stake in EverlyWell from “Shark” Lori Grenier, which she accepted.
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