U.S. weekly average of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations down 15%

WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Friday said that weekly COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the United States were down 15% from the previous week.

The United States had a daily average of 106,400 COVID-19 cases, 8,300 hospitalizations and more than 1,476 deaths in its most recent seven-day period, Walensky told reporters at a White House briefing.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies during a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 18, 2021. Susan Walsh/Pool via REUTERS

The U.S. is on track to double the number of COVID-19 rapid-scale tests on the market over the next 60 says, said White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients.

Health officials welcomed news that a pill developed by U.S. drugmaker Merck (MRK.N) could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19, but would not provide a timeline for when it could be approved by regulators.

"The news of the efficacy of this particular antiviral is obviously very good news. The company when they briefed us last night, had mentioned that they will be submitting their data to the FDA imminently. The data are impressive," said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert, Ahmed Aboulenein, and Jeff Mason

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Thomson Reuters

Washington-based correspondent covering U.S. healthcare and pharmaceutical policy with a focus on the Department of Health and Human Services and the agencies it oversees such as the Food and Drug Administration, previously based in Iraq and Egypt.