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A health care worker at Carroll Hospital prepares to take samples from a person being tested for the coronavirus at a drive-thru station in the hospital's parking garag in Westminster, Maryland. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

We're still not where we need to be, but America's coronavirus testing situation is getting better after major commercial laboratories have jumped in.

The big picture: "We expect more...than 1 million coming on board this week," Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters yesterday.

Driving the news: The Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave emergency clearance to tests made by Roche and Thermo Fisher — major diagnostics makers with high-volume capabilities.

  • Roche alone expects to manufacture 400,000 tests a week. Thermo Fischer says it has 1.5 million tests available, and will ramp up production to 5 million tests per week in April.
  • The FDA also released new guidance for test makers last night, making the rules more flexible with the intention of getting more tests up and running.

Yes, but: There are still concerns about shortages of the materials needed to make the tests.

"Drive-thru" testing areas are being set up across the country, which keeps patients who want to get tested out of hospitals.

  • This frees up emergency personnel to focus on trauma cases and coronavirus patients who need more intensive hospital care, while keeping potentially non-infected people out of areas where they could catch the virus.
  • Even if these centers have to send samples to commercial labs to process, which usually takes a few days, patients who aren't critically ill can self-quarantine at home while awaiting their results.

What they're saying: "In a pandemic situation like this, you really want to protect your health care workers. You don’t want to have people who are shedding virus but not seriously ill going to your emergency department, because they could infect people in your emergency department," said Gary Procop of the Cleveland Clinic, which is operating a drive-thru testing center.

Go deeper

Beauty giant Coty Cosmetics looking to sell its own branded products

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi. Photo: Axios on HBO

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi tells Axios the beauty giant will “probably” introduce Coty-branded products one day.

Why it matters: Coty produces some of the world’s most popular fragrances, skin care products and color cosmetics on behalf of other well-known brands, but has shied away from producing its own branded products.

31 mins ago - Sports

NFL to end race-based testing in concussion settlements

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The National Football League on Wednesday reached an agreement with former players to end the controversial practice of race-based adjustments in dementia testing, AP reports.

Why it matters: The deal, which must still be approved by a judge, comes amid a broader discussion of racial inequities in health care.

Parents in Michigan, Virginia sue AG over action on school board threats

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland during an October news conference in Mexico City. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

A group of parents in Michigan and Virginia accused Attorney General Merrick Garland in a federal lawsuit Tuesday of trying to "criminalize" free speech by directing law enforcement to review threats against school staff.

Why it matters: The lawsuit, filed by the conservative American Freedom Law Center on behalf of the parents in two school districts, accuses Garland of seeking to suppress free speech in his memorandum directing federal authorities to counter the threats spike.