Health Afternoon Update: White House Said to Prepare Recommendation That People Wear Cloth Masks

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  • At the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House is preparing to recommend the public wear homemade masks to stifle the spread of COVID-19 by keeping the wearer from potentially infecting others, according to a federal official familiar with the new policy, which is still subject to change. The CDC is restricting its definition of face coverings to homemade gear made from cloth, according to a draft of the guidelines, to prevent further shortages of personal protective equipment needed for health care workers. (Stat News)
  • President Donald Trump is expanding the use of the Defense Production Act to address the ongoing shortage of ventilators by authorizing the Health and Human Services Department to aid six manufacturers, such as General Electric Co. and Medtronic PLC, obtain necessary materials for the equipment. (The Hill)
  • The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first coronavirus test for antibodies, allowing doctors to confirm whether a patient has been exposed to COVID-19 by studying a drop of blood for the presence of protective antibodies. Cellex’s test provides results in roughly 15 minutes, and could help the United States track asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, particularly health care workers, though antibody tests are unlikely to show positive results until several days after the person is infected. (The New York Times)

Correction: In Tuesday’s Health Afternoon Update, a story about Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of a rapid-response COVID-19 test kit was later withdrawn by Axios, which reported that the FDA confirmed Wednesday that it did not issue such an authorization.

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