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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

30 mins ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia structures in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

Dave Lawler, author of World
50 mins ago - World

Biden's big Saudi reset

Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.