New Stanford Study to Help Us Understand How COVID-19 Spreads

Scientists are seeking volunteers across greater Bay Area to self-administer at-home tests

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Stanford Medicine scientists are leading a new COVID-19 study they said could help understand where and how the virus is spreading, especially in communities that might not have the same access to traditional testing.

The study, called CATCH, or Community Alliance to Test Coronavirus at Home, is seeking volunteers to conduct at-home tests requiring a swab of the nostril rather than the more invasive test that reaches deep into the nasal cavity.

Getting to a testing site can limit who is getting tested, so the aim is to reach people at home, thereby expanding the reach into underserved and underrepresented communities, the researchers said.

"What we're doing is connecting testing capacity to people who need the tests," Stanford University Professor Dr. Steven Quake said. "And hopefully, those tests will be supported by one of the many agencies that are supporting the cost of testing right now."

Researchers said the study will help them figure out a more accurate number of COVID cases in the Bay Area and help them identify hotspots too.

"What we want to do is track people who might be infected and people who aren't infected because it's really important to have a base to which to compare the infected people," Stanford University Professor Yvonne Maldonado said.

So far, researchers have tested about 2,000 people, but are hoping to test 100,000.

Here are a few more details about CATCH:

  • It is open to residents in all Bay Area counties plus Santa Cruz and San Benito counties
  • Participants must be adults who can participate in online surveys, some of whom will be selected to get those at-home tests
  • Children ages 5 and older will be added soon and require a parent or legal guardian to complete the sign-up and permissions process
  • There is no cost to participate, and you don’t have to have insurance

Stanford Medicine hopes the insights from the study will help the its scientists and local public officials understand the outbreak more completely, help inform public health decisions and perhaps lead the way forward for the rest of the country.

For more information about the study, visit or call 833-971-2468.

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