The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first rapid coronavirus test that can be taken at home and deliver results within minutes, potentially allowing people to skip long lines at testing sites as infections continue to surge nationwide.

a large building: FDA officials announced Tuesday that they had granted emergency approval to the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed entirely at home.

© Jacquelyn Martin/AP
FDA officials announced Tuesday that they had granted emergency approval to the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed entirely at home.

The single-use test kit from Lucira Health, Inc. relies on nucleic acid amplification technology, which is considered more accurate than antigen tests. It will cost less than $50, according to the company’s website.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who is 87 and third in line of succession to the presidency, revealed Tuesday that he has contracted the coronavirus.
  • President Trump said Tuesday that he had “reversed the ridiculous decision” to cancel a large annual event at Arlington National Cemetery over virus concerns.
  • The average daily number of patients dying of covid-19 in the United States has reached a level not seen since the outbreak surged during the summer. At least 247,000 fatalities and nearly 11.4 million infections have been reported nationwide since February.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced a nightly curfew for businesses that will last at least three weeks. Similar restrictions were also announced in Los Angeles County, home to more than 10 million people.
  • The number of Americans willing to take a vaccine when one becomes available increased in the second half of October, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.

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1:06 AM: Belgium vowed to protect nursing homes from covid-19. Deaths there are still among the worst in the world.

© Virginia Mayo/AP
Staff at a nursing home in Landenne, Belgium, attend to a resident with covid-19.

One Belgian doctor described nursing homes in his country as a scene of “carnage” in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with fatalities inside the institutions pushing Belgium to a worst-in-the-world death toll. Afterward, policymakers vowed to fortify the care homes to protect against a potential new surge.

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Yet deep into a second wave, the virus is racing through nursing homes once more, and advocates say some of the same broad mistakes are cementing Belgium’s status as a country where reported coronavirus deaths per capita are off the charts.

Nursing home personnel lament that they are being sidelined again, while policymakers focus on protecting the hospital system from being overwhelmed. But as in the spring, more nursing home residents are dying than any other segment of society.

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By: Michael Birnbaum

12:36 AM: A vial, a vaccine and hopes for slowing a pandemic — how a shot comes to be

Hundreds of ultracold freezers in a warehouse belonging to pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in Kalamazoo, Mich., will hold one of the most-anticipated vaccines in human history: a shot against the coronavirus.

In a vast Pfizer warehouse in Kalamazoo, Mich., with hundreds of ultracold freezers standing sentry, the final leg of an unprecedented scientific, medical and industrial relay race is about to get underway.

The country appears to be on track to have two remarkably effective coronavirus vaccines available before year’s end — the one from Kalamazoo, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and another from biotech company Moderna. Both are proving to be more than 90 percent effective in clinical trials so far.

But the next phase of this race will depend on the herculean task of producing these tiny vials of vaccine at a vast scale nearly overnight and distributing millions of doses without wasting any.

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By: Carolyn Y. Johnson

12:35 AM: Adopting mask mandates, some GOP governors give up the gospel of personal responsibility

© Mike Mccleary/AP
After months of resisting ordering the people of North Dakota to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s executive order Friday came as a surprise. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

A growing number of Republican governors, including some who had written off mask mandates as unenforceable or unacceptable to freedom-loving Americans, are now requiring people to cover their faces in public — a response to escalating coronavirus outbreaks overwhelming hospitals across the country.

After eight months of preaching personal responsibility in place of mandates, these governors have brought their states in line with much of the world by instituting the simple requirement backed by science but, in the United States, shot through with politics.

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By: Isaac Stanley-Becker

12:34 AM: FDA authorizes first test users can take, get results at home

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized the first rapid coronavirus test that users can take at home and get their results within minutes.

The “All-In-One” single-use test kit by Lucira Health, Inc. is the latest nasal-swab test to be granted emergency use authorization but marks a significant development in at-home testing as companies have raced toward getting an accurate, consumer-friendly diagnostic test to market. The molecular test works by looking for the virus’s genetic material in a self-collected sample swab, offering results in 30 minutes or less on a light-up display.

Since the agency updated guidelines in July specifying that an at-home test would need to be easy enough that a layperson could administer it, companies had ceased submitting applications for such products, the FDA told The Washington Post in late October.

The test by Lucira, which was developing an at-home influenza test kit before the pandemic, met the agency’s burden for ease of use. The test will cost less than $50, according to the company’s website.

With winter approaching and a surge of infections in most states, the test could offer people the flexibility of getting tested for the virus without waiting in long lines at labs, doctor’s offices and other testing locations.

The nucleic acid amplification technology is also considered more accurate than antigen tests, which detect proteins on the surface of the virus.

William Wan and Laurie McGinley contributed to this report.

By: Meryl Kornfield

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