The kit was developed by a Rutgers University laboratory, called RUCDR Infinite Biologics, in partnership with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostic Labs. They must be ordered by a physician.
The agency has come under fire in recent weeks for allowing myriad companies to offer diagnostic and antibody tests without submitting timely data for review, under its emergency use authorization policy because of the pandemic. Tests have varied widely in terms of their accuracy, and access to diagnostic testing has been scattered, with shortages of tests and the materials required to process them straining capacity from one state to another.
To date, 8.1 million people in the United States have been tested. But public health experts said testing needed to double by the end of May.
Just last week, the F.D.A. ordered dozens of companies it had allowed to market antibody tests, which some states and public health experts hope will help indicate the depth of infection in communities and quantify who has recovered and perhaps developed some immunity, to submit data proving accuracy within 10 days.
The F.D.A. said that Rutgers had submitted data showing that testing saliva samples collected by patients themselves, under the observation of a health care provider, was as accurate as testing deep nasal swabs that the health professional had collected from them. The agency also said the spit collection kits should be limited to people who are exhibiting symptoms.
The F.D.A. said it still preferred tests based on deep nasal samples, even those have had problems. Rutgers has 75,000 of the saliva test kits ready to ship and can process 20,000 tests each day, with a 48-hour turnaround. Dr. Brooks said he expected other labs around the country to adopt it for their own use and that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid had approved a $100 fee per test, but prices will vary.
At a time when some states say they are still facing a shortage of tests, at-home kits have the potential to widen the audience for virus screening. By keeping symptomatic people home instead going in to be tested, the spit kits could reduce the risk of infecting health care workers.
Some public health experts, however, have cautioned that at-home kits can also come with downsides. One is that it can take longer for people to get results when they need to be sent to labs. Because the infection can take several days to develop, they said, the time lag could result in some false negative results.
In its emergency authorization for the Rutgers test, the F.D.A. noted that negative test results would not preclude an infection and “should not be used as the sole basis for patient management decisions.”
The agency also noted that the Rutgers lab was the only entity it had authorized to market at-home self-sampling kits for saliva. In March, the F.D.A. cracked down on several health start-ups that had rushed to market unauthorized at-home kits that involved consumers collecting their own spit or throat swabs for testing.
The U.S. lost 20.5 million jobs in April as unemployment rises to 14.7 percent.
The American economy plunged deeper into crisis last month, losing 20.5 million jobs as the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent, the worst devastation since the Great Depression.
The Labor Department’s monthly report on Friday provided the clearest picture yet of the breadth and depth of the economic damage — and how swiftly it spread — as the coronavirus pandemic swept the country.
Job losses have encompassed the entire economy, affecting every major industry. Areas like leisure and hospitality had the biggest losses in April, but even health care shed more than a million jobs. Low-wage workers, including many women and members of racial and ethnic minorities, have been hit especially hard.
“It’s literally off the charts,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America. “What would typically take months or quarters to play out in a recession happened in a matter of weeks this time.”
From almost any vantage point, it was a bleak report. The share of the population with a job, at 51.3 percent, was the lowest on record. Nearly 11 million people reported working part time because they couldn’t find full-time work, up from about four million before the pandemic.
If anything, the numbers probably understate the economic distress.
Millions more Americans have filed unemployment claims since the data was collected in mid-April. What’s more, because of issues with the way workers are classified, the Labor Department said the actual unemployment rate last month might have been closer to 20 percent.
The one bright spot in Friday’s report was that nearly 80 percent of the unemployed said that they had been temporarily laid off and expected to return to their jobs in the coming months.
President Trump endorsed this view in an interview Friday morning on Fox News. “Those jobs will all be back, and they’ll be back very soon,” Mr. Trump said, “and next year we’re going to have a phenomenal year.”
But Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said many of the jobs could not be recovered.
“This is going to be a hard reality,” Ms. Swonk said. “These furloughs are permanent, not temporary.”
Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for the virus on Friday, forcing a delay in the departure of Air Force Two while a half-dozen other members of his staff were taken off the plane for further testing.
The latest positive test further rattled a White House already on edge after the president’s military valet came down with the virus. Katie Miller, the vice president’s press secretary and a top spokeswoman for the White House coronavirus efforts, had tested negative on Thursday but then tested positive on Friday morning.
The result forced Mr. Pence’s scheduled flight to Des Moines to be delayed for more than an hour, even though she was not traveling with him, so that six other aides who had been in contact with her could be escorted from the plane at Joint Base Andrews before its departure.
All six later tested negative but were sent home out of caution, officials said. Ms. Miller is married to Stephen Miller, the president’s senior adviser, and he too was tested again on Friday and the results came back negative.
White House officials initially asked reporters not to identify Ms. Miller as the aide who tested positive, but Mr. Trump blew the secret when he identified her publicly during his meeting with the congressional Republicans as “Katie” and “the press person” for Mr. Pence.
“She tested very good for a long period of time. And then all of a sudden today, she tested positive,” Mr. Trump said. “She hasn’t come into contact with me. Spent some time with the vice president.”
But Ms. Miller has been in the vicinity of the president in recent days, including during his Fox News appearance on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial and again on Thursday in the Rose Garden. Her husband is in meetings with the president even more frequently as the architect of his crackdown on immigration, although he and other aides have sat farther away than they have in the past.
Multiple presidential aides are now tested daily, as are about 10 members of Mr. Pence’s staff, an official said. But tests are conducted less frequently on other White House officials who work next door in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and have regular contact with West Wing aides even if not the president himself.
A government official said Friday that the Secret Service has 11 active cases of the coronavirus, but it was unclear whether any were agents or served in the White House. While tested regularly, agents in the president’s detail have not been wearing masks, and new faces have shown up in recent days.
Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence are now tested daily, and both tested negative after the latest infections were discovered.
Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, told reporters that “we’ve put in some additional protocols over the last 48 hours” to reduce the risk. “This is probably the safest place you can come to,” he said.
But neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Pence regularly wears a mask, nor do most of their aides. The president hosted a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington on Friday to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany by inviting several veterans aged 95 and over, even though they were in the most vulnerable age group.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Friday ordered ballots to be sent to the state’s 20.6 million voters for the November election, becoming the first state to alter their voting plans for the general election in response to the public health concerns wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
While California has greatly expanded its vote-by-mail operation in past elections — roughly 65 percent of the state voted by mail in the 2018 midterm elections — the decision by the largest state in the country to greatly reduce in-person voting is a recognition by state officials that the coronavirus outbreak is unlikely to subside by the fall.
Mr. Newsom said officials would be working in the next “days and weeks” to determine how in-person voting would be conducted in November. That responsibility will largely fall to county officials, who must find larger polling places and will have to eliminate senior centers and retirement homes that have long served as sites.
In shifting to a broader vote-by-mail system, California is trying to avoid the public health debacle wrought by the April 7 elections in Wisconsin, where voters and poll workers weighed the health risks of congregating en masse during a pandemic with their right to vote.
Mr. Newsom also said on Friday that state and county officials had shut down several bars and more than 30 hair salons that were violating California’s coronavirus restrictions.
“We’ll see more of that if people get ahead of themselves,” he said.
The state began lifting restrictions on Friday for some retailers, including those selling clothing, books and flowers. But stores are open only for pickup, and customers are not allowed inside.
Mr. Newsom held his news briefing from a flower shop in Sacramento. “I know there’s deep anxiety people are feeling — a desire to reopen,” he said, framed by bamboo canes and pink roses.
A federal investigative office has found “reasonable grounds to believe” that the Trump administration was retaliating against a whistle-blower, Dr. Rick Bright, when he was ousted from a government research agency combating the coronavirus, and said he should be reinstated for 45 days while it investigates, his lawyers said Friday.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports that the lawyers, Debra S. Katz and Lisa J. Banks, said in a statement that they were notified late Thursday afternoon that the Office of Special Counsel, which protects whistle-blowers, had “made a threshold determination” that the Department of Health and Human Services “violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by removing Dr. Bright from his position because he made protected disclosures in the best interest of the American public.”
The finding comes just days after the lawyers filed a whistle-blower complaint saying that Dr. Bright’s removal last month as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was intended as payback. They said Dr. Bright, who was reassigned to a narrower job at the National Institutes for Health, had tried to expose “cronyism” and corruption at the Department of Health and Human Services while pressing for a more robust virus response and opposing the stockpiling of drugs championed by President Trump.
It will now be up to the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, to decide whether to bring Dr. Bright back to BARDA during the inquiry.
If Mr. Azar refuses, Dr. Bright’s complaint would ordinarily be sent to the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent quasi-federal agency charged with deciding claims of whistle-blower reprisal. But the Senate has not confirmed Mr. Trump’s nominees to the board, leaving it with no members. A “frequently asked questions” document about the lack of members has been removed from the board’s website.
A spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department, Caitlin Oakley, declined to say what Mr. Azar would do.
The distribution of remdesivir has become mired in controversy.
When the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency approval to an antiviral drug, remdesivir, for treatment of hospitalized virus patients, doctors were overjoyed. The drug is the first shown to be even mildly effective against the virus.
But bafflement soon followed as doctors and hospitals tried to obtain the drug. Small community hospitals with few beds received it, while medical centers besieged with cases were denied.
Only four hospitals in Massachusetts, for example, are known to have received remdesivir: three small community hospitals and Massachusetts General, a Harvard University teaching hospital, where officials said they had not even asked for it. Yet other major hospitals were left out, including Boston Medical Center, which has many vulnerable African-American patients.
Remdesivir’s approval should have been a clear victory, but its distribution has been tripped up by seemingly capricious decision-making and finger-pointing.
Like other drugs used in hospitals, remdesivir is supplied not by the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, but by a wholesale distributor, in this case a company called AmerisourceBergen.
After the F.D.A. granted the emergency approval, Gilead Sciences said it would donate its existing supply of the drug: 1.5 million vials, enough to treat roughly 140,000 hospitalized patients.
Hospitals needing the drug were told to call AmerisourceBergen to find out if they were on a list of facilities that qualified. If so, the distributor shipped the drug. If not, the hospital was denied the drug.
That list apparently was not drawn up by AmerisourceBergen, which says on its website that hospitals “the U.S. government deems most in need will receive priority in the distribution of donated remdesivir,” adding that “neither Gilead nor AmerisourceBergen are deciding which hospitals will receive remdesivir.”
But it is not clear how federal officials came up with a list of hospitals “most in need,” or even what hospitals are on it. Criticism of the list and the rollout has been gathering steam in Washington.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said during a news briefing that Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s task force coordinator, was taking a lead role in federal oversight of how remdesivir is allocated.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the H.I.V. Medicine Association also have written to Vice President Mike Pence, who oversees the coronavirus task force, pleading for an explanation of the criteria used to allocate remdesivir. There has been no reply.
The Small Business Administration’s inspector general said on Friday that flaws in the agency’s enactment of the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program have probably left some rural, minority and women-owned businesses unable to get loans and could leave thousands of borrowers saddled with debt.
The report is the first formal review of the embattled Paycheck Protection Program, which is the centerpiece of the government’s economic relief effort. The program, created as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package, has funneled billions of dollars to firms struggling to cope with the pandemic, but has been criticized for favoring bigger businesses and for complex requirements that are out of step with economic realities.
According to the inspector general’s report, the S.B.A. did not carry out the requirement of the law to issue guidance that would ensure that lenders prioritize underserved communities.
“Because S.B.A. did not provide guidance to lenders about prioritizing borrowers in underserved and rural markets, these borrowers, including rural, minority and women-owned businesses may not have received the loans as intended,” the report said.
The inspector general, Hannibal Ware, said that the S.B.A. overlooked the need to ask for demographic information on loan applications, making it difficult to tell if loans are actually going the prioritized markets.
The report also highlights another concern that has gripped borrowers, raising questions about the S.B.A.’s rule that 75 percent of loan proceeds be used to cover payroll costs and 25 percent go overhead costs such as rent.
Separately, a special House subcommittee created to oversee the Trump administration’s virus response took its first official action on Friday, urging five publicly traded companies to return loans they had received through the Paycheck Protection Program.
The Democrats in charge of the committee said the companies — which each have market capitalizations of more than $25 million and more than 600 employees — had taken advantage of a program that Congress intended to help much smaller businesses. The companies, which include transportation and pharmaceutical firms, each received loans of at least $10 million under the program, known as the Paycheck Protection Program.
“Since your company is a public entity with a substantial investor base and access to the capital markets, we ask that you return these funds immediately,” Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the subcommittee’s chairman, and the other Democrats wrote in letters to the companies.
Republicans, who have preemptively dismissed the subcommittee as an attempt to politically attack Mr. Trump, urged Democrats to let the Treasury Department police the small business program itself.
On Friday, Ahmaud Arbery would have turned 26.
Instead, more than two months after he was shot to death near Brunswick, Ga., on Feb. 23, people are finding ways to protest in person and from a distance to honor his memory and mourn his death.
To commemorate his birthday — and to honor the date of his death — supporters are going for 2.23-mile runs. And at a time when many people are reluctant to gather in person to rally, they are connecting instead under the hashtag #IRunWithMaud on social media.
In Brunswick, there was a protest in person. Demonstrators, almost all of them wearing masks, packed in front of the Glynn County Courthouse to demand justice.
It was yet another example of the way the virus has changed life — in this case the way it has helped shape the protests that followed the death of Mr. Arbery, a young black man.
Mr. Arbery, a former high school athlete and avid jogger, was running through a residential neighborhood when he was confronted by two white men, a former police officer and his son, and fatally shot. The men were arrested on Thursday night after an international outcry.
By Friday morning, the hashtag #IRunWithMaud had been used tens of thousands of times on Twitter, and people shared photographs of themselves outside in running gear, often alongside photos of Mr. Arbery.
In Atlanta on Friday, people ran with #IRunWithMaud and #BlackLivesMatter signs pinned to their backs. But the people who ran in Mr. Arbery’s honor came from all across the United States, and they included doctors, teachers and professional athletes.
“Happy birthday to Ahmaud Arbery,” the New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said in a video he recorded during his run on Friday. “Even though they arrested those two men, we’ve got to make sure they don’t forget his face and that he gets his justice in court.”
Records from medical examiners recount lonely deaths from people “found unresponsive at home.”
A 71-year-old woman with nausea who was sent home from the emergency room, even though a doctor wanted to admit her. A 63-year-old nurse who was self-isolating while she waited for results from her virus test. A 77-year-old man who was prescribed antibiotics by a doctor out of state for his fever and dry cough.
All were found unresponsive at home, their lives claimed by Covid-19 before they ever had a chance to check into the hospital.
The agony of how the virus has killed at least 1,600 Floridians, many of them older, is brief and matter of fact in the unadorned language of medical examiners, who summarize death in sometimes less than 200 words.
But a trove of short narratives from nearly all of the state’s deaths so far show that a substantial number of people have died suddenly after returning home from the hospital or visiting a doctor or a clinic. Many worsened, returned to the hospital and died there.
A 5-year-old child died in a Manhattan hospital on Thursday from what appeared to be a rare syndrome that causes life-threatening inflammation in children and that may be linked to the virus, officials said.
The Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, where the child was being treated, did not release any further information about the victim.
“While it is concerning that children are affected, we must emphasize that based on what we know thus far, it appears to be a very rare condition,” said Lucia Lee, a spokeswoman for the Mount Sinai Health System.
On Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that the child was 5 years old and the death — possibly from the syndrome — was under investigation.
The governor also said there had been 73 reported cases of children in New York area who had been afflicted with the illness, which doctors have labeled “pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.”
In an advisory to health care providers, state health officials said most of the children who were thought to have the syndrome had also tested positive for the coronavirus or for antibodies to it. The governor said the state’s Health Department was investigating other deaths as possible cases.
“This would be really painful news and would open up an entirely different chapter,” Mr. Cuomo said, “because I can’t tell you how many people I spoke to who took peace and solace in the fact that children were not getting infected.”
According to the most recent breakdown from the state, three children younger than 10 had died of the virus, out of more than 21,000 fatalities. All told, another 216 people in the state died of the virus over the past day, the governor said Friday.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to address the glaring racial disparity in the enforcement of social-distancing rules. Of the 374 people who had received social-distancing summonses, the police said Friday, more than 80 percent were black or Hispanic. That meant that black and Hispanic people, who make up about half the city’s population, were more than four times as likely as white and Asian people to have received a summons.
As the city looks to quell the outbreak, its contact tracing efforts will not be led by the city’s renowned Health Department, which for decades has conducted contact tracing for other diseases, the mayor said Friday, a decision that puzzled current and former health officials, who questioned changing a proven strategy.
Instead, in a sharp departure from current and past practice, the city is going to put the vast new public health apparatus in the hands of its public hospital system, Health and Hospitals.
When they were little, living with their mother and sleeping on the floor of their grandfather’s apartment in Harlem, Mr. Coker would excuse his prolonged absence by saying that he had taken time off from working for a limousine service to travel to the Midwest to train Renaldo Snipes, the heavyweight boxer who had been his sometime sparring partner.
Finally, Mr. Coker owned up to having made a mistake, a big one, in his early 40s — one that upended his life and ravaged those of others. Driven by greed and easy money, he had become a heroin dealer, reaping as much as $25,000 a month as an offshoot of a much larger organized crime drug distribution network.
Mr. Coker had packaged and sold so much heroin that federal guidelines at the time of his sentencing in 1994 required him to spend the rest of his life in prison.
But it turned out that the government, too, had made a mistake of sorts. Three weeks after Mr. Coker was sentenced, the federal guidelines were relaxed. A year later, the rules were changed again so that the reduced sentences could be applied retroactively.
Except nobody told Mr. Coker.
Mr. Coker was finally released early, after nearly 23 years, in 2013. The judge invoked what she described as Mr. Coker’s “extraordinary” ability, even while imprisoned, to be “a true father figure to his wonderful sons” and “the truly astounding” evidence of his rehabilitation offered by his guards.
He went to work for a friend’s pest control company in Queens. He died of the novel coronavirus on April 9 in a Manhattan hospital. He was 69.
Recent polling suggests Americans are heeding the advice of health officials and do not want a quick return to normalcy, despite skyrocketing unemployment because of the virus and Mr. Trump’s cheerleading to reopen the economy.
But more than two-thirds of respondents said in a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday that they were more concerned that state governments would reopen their economies too quickly than that they might take too long — roughly on par with past responses to the same question.
And in a survey released late last month by The Associated Press and NORC, 68 percent of Americans said they had a great deal of trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide them with reliable information about the pandemic. That’s three times as much as the dismal 23 percent who said they definitely trusted Mr. Trump’s statements on the virus.
The virus’s effects are being felt most acutely in states with a high concentration of people in cities, and the six most-infected states per capita all trend Democratic politically. Black people and Latinos are showing some of the highest rates of infection: More than a quarter of all confirmed cases have been among Latinos, according to C.D.C. statistics, and even more have been among African-American people.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll of residents in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area — the center of the virus in the United States — 71 percent of respondents said they wanted their state government to focus on controlling the virus, not on reopening.
Restaurants are receiving patrons into dining rooms partially cordoned off for social distancing, friends are seeking safe conversation in the sunshine and some people are trying to continue a productive path forward in isolation.
The patchwork of rules meant to slow the pandemic across the United States has continued to evolve, as many state and local governments lifted, shifted and let expire regulations that governed what businesses could be open, as well as how public areas could be used.
Times photographers explored how people are seeking a bit of normalcy as states wrestle with the shutdowns.
Read a defense of a good cry, and other options for ‘losing it.’
Lie in the fetal position, eat a sundae, call a friend: In these tough times, there’s an argument to be made for losing control (within reason). Here’s how all of these releases may help:
Keep up with the latest from our correspondents around the world.
The Australian government on Friday outlined a cautious, three-step plan to reopen the country by July, with states and territories in control of the timeline.
“We cannot allow our fear of going backwards from stopping us from going forward,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Alan Blinder, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Julie Bosman, Ben Casselman, Patricia Cohen, Michael Cooper, Nick Corasaniti, Jill Cowan, Michael Crowley, Lola Fadulu, Nicholas Fandos, Michael Gold, Dana Goldstein, J. David Goodman, James Gorman, Rebecca Halleck, Barbara Harvey, Jack Healy, Tiffany Hsu, Shawn Hubler, Neil Irwin, Sheila Kaplan, Michael Levenson, Jeffery C. Mays, Patricia Mazzei, Jennifer Medina, Sarah Mervosh, Andy Newman, Sarah Maslin Nir, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Alan Rappeport, William K. Rashbaum, Sam Roberts, Rick Rojas, Giovanni Russonello, Marc Santora, Nelson D. Schwartz, Michael D. Shear, Natasha Singer, Ashley Southall, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eileen Sullivan.