March 28 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Brett McKeehan, Veronica Rocha, Amy Woodyatt and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 3:33 p.m. ET, March 29, 2020
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9:21 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

FDA authorizes 15-minute coronavirus test

From CNN’s Arman Azad

US federal health officials on Friday green-lit a point-of-care coronavirus test that can provide results in less than 15 minutes, using the same technology that powers some rapid flu tests.

Teased by Vice President Mike Pence in a Thursday press briefing, the new diagnostic could accelerate testing in the United States, allowing for rapid results in doctors’ offices. But shortages of critical equipment used to collect patient specimens, such as masks and swabs, could blunt its impact.

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized the test for emergency use, signaling that federal regulators were satisfied with the test’s validation data and believe its benefits outweigh any risks, such as false positives or negatives.

The test’s maker, Abbott, said it expects to deliver 50,000 tests per day beginning next week. The technology behind the test looks for genes that are present in the virus, similar to PCR tests already on the market.

The platform used to run the test weighs less than 7 pounds, according to Abbott, and could be deployed “where testing is needed most,” such as at coronavirus hotspots.

More on this: Last week, the FDA authorized another rapid test – one from molecular diagnostics company Cepheid, which provides results in about 45 minutes. Most laboratory tests for the coronavirus take anywhere from a few hours to days to receive results. 

All FDA-authorized tests, however, require samples from patients – and health care facilities say they’re facing shortages of critical supplies needed to collect specimens. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued guidance allowing some patients to collect their own nasal swabs in health care facilities, which could reduce the amount of protective equipment needed for health care workers.

But some jurisdictions, such as New York City, have said that patients with coronavirus-like illness should stay home – saying that is “safer for the patients and health care workers” and doesn’t change the treatment patients receive.


9:50 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

More than 101,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US

Hospital bed booths are set up at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which is being turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus cases on March 27 in New York City.
Hospital bed booths are set up at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which is being turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus cases on March 27 in New York City. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

There are at least 101,242 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to CNN Health’s tally of cases that are detected and tested in the country through public health systems.

At least 1,588 people have died in the US from coronavirus. 

Today there have been at least 402 new deaths reported -- the most in the US in a single day. There were 253 deaths reported yesterday, the previous single-day high.

The total includes cases from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.

9:20 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Arkansas asks visitors coming from New York to quarantine for 14 days

From CNN's Jamiel Lynch

The Arkansas Department of Health is recommending all travelers from New York state and foreign countries to self-quarantine for 14 days.

"This is due to high rates of COVID-19 in New York as well as in a growing number of international locations," the department said in a statement.

Any visitors showing a fever, cough, or other symptoms of coronavirus should contact their doctor for advice on where to be evaluated, the department said.

9:20 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

Madrid prepares improvised morgue to hold 200 bodies

From CNN's Laura Perez Maestro in Madrid and Mia Alberti in Lisbon

Madrid's regional government is preparing to open an improvised morgue in the next few days to increase the city's capacity to deal with Covid-19 fatalities.

The center will be set up in the Justice Campus, a building which officials said is "designed to be the headquarters of Madrid's Forensic Institute." As such, the facility will have enough mortuary refrigerators to receive about 200 bodies.

"This is an exceptional and temporary measure to help the work of funerary services, diminish the pain of the families of victims and the situation happening in the hospitals in the region," the government said in a statement.

The center should be ready "in the next few days." More than 2,400 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Madrid, according to the Spanish Ministry of Health.

9:20 p.m. ET, March 27, 2020

A 102-year-old Italian woman has recovered from coronavirus

From CNN's Livia Borghese in Rome

Italica Grondona
Italica Grondona

A 102-year-old woman has recovered from coronavirus in the northern Italian city of Genoa after spending more than 20 days in hospital, doctors who treated her and her nephew told CNN.

"We nicknamed her 'Highlander' – the immortal," said doctor Vera Sicbaldi, who treated Italica Grondona in the San Martino hospital in Genoa.

"Italica represents a hope for all the elderly facing this pandemic."

The average age of those who have tested positive for coronavirus and subsequently died in Italy is 78, according to the country's National Health Institute. 

Grondona was hospitalized at the beginning of March for "mild heart failure," Sicbaldi told CNN.

"She only had some mild coronavirus symptoms, so we tested her and she was positive, but we did very little, she recovered on her own," Sicbaldi added.

Doctors say her case impressed them so much that they decided to study it deeper.

"We got serological samples, she is the first patient we know that might have gone through the ‘Spanish flu’ since she was born in 1917," Sicbaldi explained, referring to the 1918/1919 flu pandemic that killed at least 50 million people worldwide, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Grondona left hospital on March 26 and is now in a care home. "I don’t know what her secret is, but I know she is a free and independent woman," her nephew Renato Villa Grondona told CNN.

Her only son died in the US decades ago. "But she loves life, dancing and music, she loves Freddy Mercury and Valentino Rossi," Villa Grondona said, referring to the multiple MotoGP World champion.

"The virus surrendered in front of her."