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Trump admin says 1 million coronavirus tests now available; 5 million expected by end of month

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, delivers remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Sunday, March 15, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)
March 16, 2020

President Trump held a coronavirus task force press briefing on Monday afternoon, in which health officials said that millions of coronavirus test kits are now becoming available.

“We’re now moving into a phase that the big commercial laboratories with high throughput screening have availability,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “From the information we have right now, one million tests are available.”

Giroir credited the “historic efforts of the FDA” and the agency’s emergency use authorization for the rapid development of tests by major manufacturers Roche Diagnostics and Thermo Fisher. The two manufacturers are now authorized to produce millions of coronavirus tests.

“1.9 million of those tests will be sequentially into the ecosystem this week,” Grioir said. “We expect more, and more than one million coming on board this week as the reagents come up.”

Two million tests are expected to be available next week, and five million the following week, Grioir said.

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“It doesn’t matter if they’re not in your neighborhood,” he said, adding that the tests are shipped out every day across the nation. “these are available to people nationwide.”

Closures and lockdowns are occurring rapidly across the U.S. as coronavirus cases multiply. According to John Hopkins, who has been tracking coronavirus cases globally, there are now 4,200 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of Monday afternoon. At least 73 Americans have died from the virus, and 17 people have recovered from the virus.

The CDC recommended on Sunday that all gatherings over 50 people be canceled. As such, cancellations have hit schools, major events, resorts, restaurants, theme parks and more across the country.

However, President Trump released new guidelines, which include a new recommendation to avoid gatherings of over 10 people.

“This afternoon we’re announcing new guidelines for every American to follow over the next 15 days as we combat the virus,” Trump said. “Each one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus.”

Among the guidelines are:

  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people
  • Conduct schooling at home
  • Avoid all non-essential travel
  • All household members should self-quarantine if one member tests positive.

“We had new information coming out from a model,” Ambassador Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator explained of the new change. Federal health officials have been running routine models to help analyze outbreak patterns and determine responses.

“What had the biggest impact on the model was social distancing, small groups, not going in public in large groups,” Birx said. “The most important thing was if one person in the household became infected, the whole household self-quarantined for 14 days, because that stops 100 percent of the transmission outside of the household.”