U.S. Coronavirus Cases Spike as FDA OKs New Rapid Covid-19 Test

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. near 20,000 with NY state accounting for half of reported infections; Danaher-owned Cepheid rapid-test virus kits approved by FDA.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. was close to 20,000 as of Saturday, almost 10 times week-ago levels, with already strained New York state accounting for half the reported infections, according to data updated by Johns Hopkins University on Saturday.

New York’s coronavirus cases soared to 10,356 on Saturday, a jump of more than 3,000 in one day, though the total also reflects stepped-up testing, according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The state has tested 45,000 people to date, he said at a Saturday press briefing.

Globally, meanwhile, the number of infected surpassed 289,000 and deaths reached nearly 12,000, with Spain now in official crisis mode. The death toll in Spain passed 1,300 on Saturday, with almost 25,000 confirmed cases. Italy, too, remained mired in the virus's grip, reporting 793 deaths in one day, another morbid daily record.

The dire numbers came as the Food and Drug Administration approved the first point-of-care test for the virus that can be given to patients, with results within 45 minutes and treatment immediately following if necessary.

Danaher  (DHR) - Get Report-owned bio-diagnostic company Cepheid received agency approval under an emergency use authorization, a rapid approval process that is being widely employed by the FDA during the current pandemic, according to the White House.

That approval came as Cuomo ordered all nonessential businesses in New York to close as of Sunday and continued to urge residents to stay indoors. They also came in the wake of President Trump's approval of a major disaster declaration for New York.

Cuomo said the state has located 6,000 new ventilators and is setting up four field hospitals to accommodate 1,000 people. The governor said a million respirator masks are being sent to New York City, which has the most cases in the state.

As New York and other parts of the U.S. continued to grapple with the inevitable surge of coronavirus infections, Congress was negotiating a rescue package intended to boost the U.S. economy by about $2 trillion, according to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

“The package is coming in at about 10% of GDP. It’s very large,” Kudlow told reporters in Washington on Saturday. He said later the spending bill itself is expected to total $1.3 trillion to $1.4 trillion, plus additional loans that would eventually be paid back.

The $1.4 trillion size of the third-stage package would be dramatically larger than the 2008 economic rescue plan that was designed to address the financial crisis.

Stocks fell Friday to end a volatile week that saw global central banks and governments launch massive stimulus measures to soften the blow from the harsh economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 913 points, or 4.55%, at 19,173, the S&P 500 declined 4.34% and the Nasdaq gave up 3.79%.