The current death toll in the U.S. is six, with about 100 confirmed infections

By Benjamin VanHoose
March 03, 2020 08:30 AM
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A larger pool of patients will soon be tested for coronavirus as officials ease restrictions on who can administer the exams.

At a White House briefing on Monday, a spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration announced that private companies and academic labs can now create and conduct their own coronavirus tests, according to The New York Times. By increasing the availability of the tests, health officials estimate one million people in the U.S. could be tested this week alone.

The FDA noted that the higher frequency of testing will also result in a higher number of confirmed cases. According to the Times, there have been six deaths and at least 100 infections, with more than 3,000 deaths and 90,000 infections around the world.

“We believe this policy strikes the right balance during this public health emergency,” an FDA spokesperson said in a statement to CNN of the decision to widen the number of authorized testing sites. “We will continue to help to ensure sound science prior to clinical testing and follow-up with the critical independent review from the FDA, while quickly expanding testing capabilities in the U.S.”

Corona Virus
Coronavirus
| Credit: Getty Images

Also on Monday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that while the number of cases has spiked in the country, there is no need for panic, CNN reported.

“I want folks to understand that we knew this was coming, we told folks that this was going to happen and it is why we’ve been preaching preparedness from the very start,” he said. “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate — panic is not.”

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Healthcare workers transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland
Healthcare workers transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland on Feb. 29 in Kirkland, Washington.
| Credit: David Ryder/Getty

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to start preparing for the virus to spread in the U.S. with the “expectation that this will be bad.”

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in a press briefing last Tuesday.

The CDC also says the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful handwashing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.