COVID-19 WATCH

Texas company launching 1st at-home test for COVID-19

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Responding to the short supply of COVID-19 tests around the country, Austin startup Everlywell will roll out a new at-home test for consumers beginning on Monday, March 23.

Everywell, which already offers an array of at-home lab tests, says 30,000 COVID-19 tests will be available in the initial batch. Free telehealth consultations will be provided for people who test positive for COVID-19, or the coronavirus.

As TIME first reported, this is the first U.S. company to offer at-home COVID-19 test kits directly to consumers.

"The extreme shortage of tests for COVID-19 puts millions of Americans at risk," Julia Cheek, founder and CEO of Everlywell, said in a March 18 release. "Everlywell is committed to helping stop the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. by making this test widely available. As the national leader in at-home lab testing, we want to use our resources and expertise to help as many people as we can. We are committed to this fight, and we're here to help."

Working with a number of diagnostic labs, Everlywell plans to create testing and diagnosis capacity for 250,000 people per week.

Everlywell recently launched a $1 million program aimed at encouraging labs to fast-track development of an at-home COVID-19 diagnostic test. Many labs stepped up to the task, enabling Everlywell to create a COVID-19 testing and diagnosis infrastructure in a matter of days.

"Our team has been working around the clock with top scientists and laboratories in the nation to develop a test that we will make available at the lowest price possible while covering our costs, at no profit to the company," Cheek says. "We have also reached out to government and public health officials to explore possibilities to provide it for free."

Each test costs $135, and is covered by participating providers of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts.

The test can be requested online by consumers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Samples can be collected at home, preventing further exposure for consumers and the public. All of Everlywell's lab partners conducting COVID-19 tests comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency rules for COVID-19 testing.

Continue on CultureMap to find out how quickly results from the test will be available.

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Joey Loperfido looks like the real deal! Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

After a two-game sweep of the Rockies in Mexico City, a heart-thumping, extra-inning win Tuesday night over the Guardians in Minute Maid Park, the surprising demotion of first baseman Jose Abreu to the bottom rung of the minor leagues and the call-up of fan favorite rookie slugger Joey Loperfido … suddenly the Astros season seems turned around.

Even if their record still is 10-19 and they remain dead last in the American League West.

Ah, but only six games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners. That’s just a hot streak away.

The Astros are in it … and right now aren’t you thinking to win it?

One thing is for sure. There is no doubt who is running the Astros ship and is the voice in owner Jim Crane’s ear. It’s Dana Brown, the general manager.

Since the last pitch of the Astros disappointing 2023 season when they “only” made it to Game 7 of the ALCS, Brown has made the 2024 Astros team in his mind’s image.

Gone is last year’s manager Dusty Baker with whom Brown fussed and fought with over Baker’s insistence on playing weak-hitting Martin Maldonado over rookie Yanier Diaz.

Baker resigned (thank you for saving us the trouble) and was out the door shortly after the season ended.

Gone, too, is Maldonado. The Astros never made a serious attempt to keep him in Houston.

Now Abreu is dispatched, too. After an April of historic batting futility, Abreu, a 37-year-old veteran, consented to go back to the minors to find his batting stroke. He leaves the Astros, for public consumption temporarily, hitting .099 with no home runs and 3 RBI in 71 at bats.

The Astros signed Abreu to a $58.5 million, three-year contract before last season – before Brown arrived in Houston. Crane offered the megabuck contract at the urging of then-de facto general manager Jeff Bagwell. At this time last year, it was an open question, who is the real Crane-whisperer, newly hired Brown or Astros legend Bagwell?

Next question?

If Baker had been retained and Brown held sidelined in key decisions, it’s likely that Maldonado would be in the Astros lineup and Diaz again the catcher-in-waiting. With fans still frustrated up to here.

Maldonado eventually signed with the Chicago White Sox where he is batting an even .100 and has Southside fans wringing their hands over his offensive impotence. Defensively, he has thrown out only two of 20 base stealers for a 10-percent success rate.

Meanwhile, Diaz is batting a solid .287 with three homers and 13 RBI. He is one of MLB’s elite hitting catchers. He’s also thrown out six of 23 base stealers for a 26-percent success rate.

Maldonado did have value when he played for the Astros, though. He was a leader in the clubhouse. He led team meetings when times were tough. Pitchers had confidence in him. Fans liked him, at least on a personal level.

Abreu never made that connection during his time in Houston. Despite Brown’s repeated urging to read the back of Abreu’s baseball card, and his kind and confident words announcing Abreu’s departure for West Palm Beach, do you expect to ever see him in an Astros uniform again? Abreu still will be owed $19.5 million next season, so there is that.

When Astros fans woke up Wednesday morning, they had visions of Alex Bregman and Jon Singleton smacking three-run homers, of Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena’s continued hot hitting, of rookie Loperfido driving in two go-ahead runs and reserve catcher Victor Caratini sending a big crowd home happy with a dramatic two-out, walk-off blast over the right field fence.

Hope is a good thing, and it’s back.

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