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A person receives a coronavirus test on July 16 in Long Beach, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration said Saturday it granted the first emergency use authorization for pooled coronavirus testing to speed up the process.

Why it matters: The agency said pooling up to four samples at one time can help confirm whether people are infected with fewer resources, easing testing backlogs caused by a recent spike in infections.

How it works: If a pooled sample comes back negative, all patients are presumed coronavirus free. If a test is positive, each sample must be individually tested to find out which was positive.

  • The FDA warned that pooling tests is most efficient in areas with low prevalence because most results are expected to be negative.
  • If used in areas with high infection rates, health workers may use more resources to determine which samples in the pool are positive.

What they're saying: “This [emergency use authorization] for sample pooling is an important step forward in getting more COVID-19 tests to more Americans more quickly while preserving testing supplies,” said FDA commissioner Stephen M. Hahn.

  • “Sample pooling becomes especially important as infection rates decline and we begin testing larger portions of the population.”

Go deeper: Buildings are getting tested for coronavirus, too

Go deeper

Senate advances Amy Coney Barrett nomination, setting up final confirmation vote

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

The Senate voted 51-48 on Sunday to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, setting up a final confirmation vote for Monday.

Why it matters: It's now virtually inevitable that the Senate will vote to confirm President Trump's third Supreme Court nominee before the election, which is just nine days away.

Oct 25, 2020 - World

Spain declares new state of emergency as COVID-19 cases surge

Photo: Gabriel Bouts/AFP via Getty Image

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Sunday announced a new state of emergency that imposes a curfew in an effort to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases.

Driving the news: The mandate comes less than a week after Spain became the first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million COVID-19 cases.

Oct 25, 2020 - Health

Italy tightens restrictions as COVID-19 cases soar

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte holds a press conference on Oct. 25 in Rome. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new coronavirus restrictions on Sunday that require face coverings be worn outdoors and mandate bars and restaurants close early.

Why it matters: Nearly 20,000 new cases were recorded in Italy on Saturday alone, per data from Johns Hopkins. COVID-19 infections began spiking dramatically in early October, after the country suppressed its first wave over the summer.