Mar 3, 2020 - Health

U.S. health official expects nearly 1M coronavirus tests this week

Vice President Mike Pence (C) speaks at the White House Monday, flanked by (L to R) senior health officials Robert Redfield, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Debbie Birx, Seema Verma, Alex Azar and Stephen Hahn. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn told a news conference Monday that health officials should be able to perform nearly 1 million tests for the novel coronavirus by the end of the week.

Why it matters: Officials in the U.S. and around the world are scrambling to combat a rise in cases of COVID-19.

The estimates that we’re getting from industry right now, by the end of this week close to 1 million tests will be able to be performed."
— Stephen Hahn at the news conference
  • Hahn's remarks come as the Trump administration has ordered an independent investigation after a top federal scientist raised concerns about possible contamination in a CDC lab in Atlanta where the government made test kits for the coronavirus, as first reported by Axios.

By the numbers: The CDC said in a statement Monday there were 91 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in the U.S., but this was before more cases were announced in Washington state and Georgia — taking the number of infections past 100.

What they're saying: Hahn said at the news conference he expected to see a "substantial increase" in the number of tests because of a new policy enabling regulatory flexibility so academic centers and private firms could develop and verify tests for public use quicker "this week, next week and throughout the month."

  • Vice President Mike Pence, who's leading the Trump administration's coronavirus task force, stressed at the news conference that despite the rise of infections in the U.S., the risk of contracting the virus remains low.
  • "We're focused on mitigation of the spread, as well as the treatment of the people affected," Pence said.

Go deeper: Lab for coronavirus test kits may have been contaminated

Go deeper

The Atlantic: Testing of Americans for coronavirus "shockingly sluggish"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Atlantic said that it was only able to verify 1,895 people as having been tested for the coronavirus as of Friday morning in the U.S., about 10% of whom tested positive.

The big picture: "The figures we gathered suggest that the American response to the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, has been shockingly sluggish, especially compared with that of other developed countries," The Atlantic writes Friday.

Go deeperArrowMar 6, 2020 - Health

Why the U.S. is so far behind on coronavirus testing

Data: AEI; Table: Axios Visuals

Some of the nation’s best academic laboratories wanted to begin developing their own coronavirus diagnostic tests early last month, but were blocked by federal rules about test development.

Why it matters: The U.S. is woefully behind in mass deployment of tests to detect coronavirus, determine its spread and isolate hot spots. Once given the go-ahead to develop tests under more relaxed terms, some of these labs were able to get tests up and running in a matter of days.

Go deeperArrowMar 13, 2020 - Health

Trump announces proposals to boost economy in response to coronavirus

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said at a press conference Monday that he will be meeting with Senate Republican leaders tomorrow to discuss proposals for a "very substantial" payroll tax cut and relief for hourly workers in order to stem economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: Spiraling concerns over the global impacts of the coronavirus have sent the stock market into free fall, with some investors increasingly worried that a recession is inevitable. Stocks closed 7% down on Monday amid coronavirus fears and tanking oil prices, capping the most dramatic day since the depths of the financial crisis.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy