Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Staff reports | The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Feb. 24 an emergency authorization of the nation’s first over-the-counter, at-home rapid testing kit for the flu and Covid-19, The New York Times reported. The single-use combination test kit uses a self-collected nasal swab and produces results in 30 minutes with an accuracy rate over 90% for influenza A and B and Covid, according to the FDA.

Meanwhile, state reports show the community level of the Covid-19 virus is low in the Charleston area, but 34 people died statewide from Covid in the week ending Feb. 25.

The FDA named the new combination test developed by Lucira Health a “major milestone” in bringing Americans wider access to at-home diagnostic testing, The Times reported. The Biden administration’s declaration of a May 11 expiration date for the Covid public health emergency may affect accessibility and affordability of the new flu/Covid combination test kit as out-of-pocket costs apply depending on insurance coverage.

The company that developed the new test kits, Lucira Health, recently filed for bankruptcy, which could also affect Americans’ access to the at-home combination test, according to The Times. The company cited the FDA’s lengthy approval process as a main factor in filing for bankruptcy. Because the process did not allow the product to become publicly available ahead of flu season, the company was unable to generate anticipated revenue.

Latest COVID-19 data

State health officials encourage residents to refer to the CDC’s community levels map to track the severity of Covid-19. As of Feb. 28, Charleston County’s community level is low, which is in line with the previous reporting period. 

For the week ending Feb. 25, Covid-related hospitalizations in Charleston were up 18.9% in comparison to the week ending Feb. 18. For the week ending Feb. 25, state officials reported 34 people died from Covid-19 — 10 fewer deaths than the previous week. In this period, 3,101 new cases were reported — 1,005 fewer than the previous reporting period.

SCDHEC transitioned to weekly reporting of new Covid data in December 2022. The most recent numbers were reported Tuesday and covered Feb. 19-25. In other data:

  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 69.6%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 60.7%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 23.5%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 19.5%

For more information, visit the S.C. SCDHEC COVID-19 dashboard.

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