By MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 358,000 people worldwide.
Over 5.9 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with over 1.7 million diagnosed cases and at least 101,562 deaths.
Here’s how the news developed Thursday. All times Eastern:
6:54 p.m.: More cases of child inflammatory illness reported in Texas
A hospital in Texas has reported cases of children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare illness thought to be linked to the coronavirus.
On Thursday, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston confirmed it is treating both confirmed and suspected cases of MIS-C, KHOU reported. The number of cases was not specified.
Last week, doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth announced four cases of MIS-C, Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA reported.
An ABC News analysis has found more than 200 cases of the illness in at least 27 states and Washington, D.C.
MIS-C resembles toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease, a rare inflammatory disease in young children, and can be deadly. Symptoms include fever, rash, eye irritation, swollen lymph nodes and/or swelling of the hands and feet.
4:50 p.m.: Bars, nightclubs can soon reopen in Georgia
Starting June 1, Georgia residents can resume gatherings of up to 25 people, including to hold small weddings, as long as they stay 6 feet apart, Gov. Brian Kemp said Thursday.
Until this announcement, gatherings of more than 10 people had been banned, but Kemp said, “Given favorable data … we feel comfortable incrementally increasing that number to 25.”
Pro sports can resume starting June 1, the governor said.
And starting June 1 bars and nightclubs can reopen if they comply with “strict sanitation and social distancing rules,” Kemp said.
The bars and clubs “must meet 39 mandatory measures to ensure patron well-being,” Kemp said. Those measures include screening workers for illness, allowing only 25 people inside or 35% of total occupancy, and thorough and regular sanitations.
Live performance venues will remain closed, he said.
4 p.m.: France cleared to transition to phase 2 of deconfinement
France will transition to phase 2 of its deconfinement beginning June 2, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Thursday.
“We are even a little better than where we hoped to be,” Philippe said.
With 28,599 COVID-19 fatalities, France has the fourth most total deaths behind the U.S., the United Kingdom and Italy.
Cafes, restaurants and bars can reopen, but facilities like nightclubs and stadiums remain closed as all gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited.
3:33 p.m.: 70 food plant workers test positive including 61 without symptoms
Seventy workers at a Vancouver, Washington, food plant have tested positive for the coronavirus, including 61 employees who do not have any symptoms, said Josh Hinerfeld, CEO of Firestone Pacific Foods, according to ABC Portland affiliate KATU.
After the first employee tested positive last week, the company has worked to test all employees, and about 20 still remain to be tested, KATU reported.
It’s not clear how the outbreak started, KATU said. Hinerfeld said he will work with the local health department before deciding when to reopen.
2:45 p.m.: Boston Marathon canceled
The 2020 Boston Marathon — which had been rescheduled for Sept. 14 — has now been canceled, and will instead be held as “a virtual event,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Thursday.
This is the first time the race has been canceled its 124-year history, The New York Times reported.
“All participants who were originally registered for the April 20, 2020 event will be offered a full refund of their entry fee associated with the race and will have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative to the 124th Boston Marathon, which can be run any time between September 7–14,” said Tom Grilk, C.E.O. of the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.). “The B.A.A. will also offer a series of virtual events and activities throughout September’s Marathon Week in an effort to bring the Boston Marathon experience to the constituencies that the organization serves here in Boston, across the United States, and around the world.”
12 p.m.: NYC can do phase 1 reopening ‘very, very soon,’ mayor says
New York state has a set of metrics to reopen each region, but when it comes to reopening dense, hard-hit New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a “more difficult situation.”
The governor said he’s putting a big focus on the city’s hot spots. By zip code, Cuomo said the hardest-hit spots are the outer boroughs, minority and lower income communities.
Cuomo said the state is addressing the underlying health care inequality in these most-impacted communities by bringing more diagnostic testing, antibody testing, healthcare services and PPE.
Earlier on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is “getting to the point very, very soon where we can take the first step to restart in phase one.”
Phase one could begin in the first or second week of June, he said, “if the numbers continue to hold.”
This first phase includes opening nonessential retail — like clothing, office supplies, furniture and appliances — for curbside and in-store pickup only, the mayor said.
He predicts 200,000 to 400,000 New Yorkers will be returning to work.
All industries must keep 6 feet of social distancing, reduce occupancy to under 50% and limit confined space — like elevators and cash registers — to one person. Meetings should be limited and only in large, well-ventilated areas where participants can social distance, the mayor said.
Employees must be provided with free face coverings and proper protective equipment, he added.
Businesses also must implement health screenings where necessary, including temperature checks.
The city’s Department of Buildings, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and Small Business Services will educate, conduct outreach and support all businesses, the mayor said.
New York City’s fire department, sanitation department and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection will conduct random visits to ensure compliance. Summonses will only be issued in “egregious circumstances or repeat violations,” the mayor said.
The governor announced on Thursday that he’s signing an executive order authorizing businesses to deny entry to those who do not wear a mask or face covering.
New York City has more than 225 testing sites, Cuomo said. He urged anyone who has a symptom or who has been exposed to someone positive to get tested.
11:15 a.m.: St. Louis County Executive calls Ozarks party ‘lack of judgment’
After revelers were seen ignoring social distancing for a Memorial Day pool party at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page is calling their actions a “lack of judgment and lack of understanding of social distancing.”
The St. Louis County Department of Health has issued an advisory urging those who recently ignored social distancing guidelines while at the Ozarks to self-quarantine for 14 days or until testing negative for the coronavirus.
“The Ozarks is a popular destination for St. Louis county residents, so we issued a travel warning to let them know the right thing to do when they returned home,” Page told ABC News’ “Pandemic” on Thursday. “We want them to know what the right thing to do is when they come home to protect their loved ones in their community. We know that 20 and perhaps 50% are either asymptomatic or presymptomatic, but the social distancing guidelines are here for a reason and we’re working to keep people doing the right thing.”
Page deemed the Ozarks party “bad behavior” and a “lack of judgment and lack of understanding of social distancing,” but added, “it’s completely inconsistent with what we’ve seen here in St. Louis County.”
Page said the county is testing over 500 people per day with an aim to reach 1,000 tests per day.
“We are well on our way,” he said. “We are purchasing more tests and that testing and contact tracing is the backbone of our public health response.”
10:45 a.m.: South Korea tightens restrictions in Seoul after spike in new cases
The Korean Centers for Disease Control reported 79 newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases on Thursday — the highest increase since early April.
Restrictions will be tightened in Seoul and surrounding areas through June 14 to stem the spread, health authorities said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
Bars and clubs are advised to close down and public facilities, including museums and art galleries, will be closed. Companies are urged to adopt flexible work systems and follow quarantine rules.
“If we fail to eradicate the spread of the virus in the metropolitan area at an early stage, it will lead to more community infections, eventually undermining school reopenings,” Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told reporters, according to Yonhap.
South Korea has reported a total of 11,344 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 269 deaths.
6:59 a.m.: India sees highest single-day rise in infections
India reported a record spike in coronavirus infections on Thursday, just days before its nationwide lockdown is set to expire.
The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare registered 6,566 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 158,333. There were also 194 deaths from the disease reported over the same period, placing the national toll at 4,531.
Mumbai, India’s financial hub and most populous city, is the epicenter of the country’s novel coronavirus outbreak, with more than 33,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 1,200 deaths.
India’s two-month-old lockdown is slated to end Sunday, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be preparing a new set of coronavirus-related guidelines to be issued this weekend.
Modi’s government began easing restrictions earlier this month, allowing shops and factories to reopen as well as some trains and domestic flights to resume. Hotels, metro services, restaurants and schools have remained closed nationwide.
6:07 a.m.: Russia reports record 174 new deaths, again
Russia said Thursday it has registered 174 coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide toll to 4,142.
It’s the second time this week that Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters has reported that same number of COVID-19 fatalities over a 24-hour period — the highest daily increase the country has seen so far. However, the overall tally is still considerably lower than many other nations hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
There were also 8,915 new cases of COVID-19 registered in Russia over the last 24 hours, placing country’s count at 379,051.
The latest daily caseload is down from a peak of 11,656 new infections reported on May 11, during which Russia registered over 10,000 new cases per day over a 12-day period. Since then, the daily number of new infections has hovered around 9,000 per day.
Russian President Vladimir Putin began easing the nationwide lockdown earlier this month, despite a rising number of cases at the time.
Last weekend, Brazil surpassed Russia as the country with the second-highest number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the world, behind the United States, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
5:43 a.m.: Brazil’s president says Trump is sending hydroxychloroquine tablets
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump is sending over 2 million tablets of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.
Bolsonaro, a close ally of Trump, made the comment while speaking to a small group of supporters as well as members of the press outside the presidential palace in the capital Brasilia.
“[Trump] is sending us, here, 2 million hydroxychloroquine tablets,” Bolsonaro said, without offering further details.
A Brazilian source told ABC News that the deal is still being negotiated.
Bolsonaro, who has come under fire for his handling of Brazil’s novel coronavirus outbreak, keeps promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, although there’s no evidence the medication works as a prophylactic for the disease.
Trump has also touted hydroxychloroquine as a possible “game changer” treatment for COVID-19 and announced earlier this month that he was taking daily doses of the drug as a preventive measure against the virus after two White House staffers tested positive.
However, a recent study of more than 96,000 coronavirus patients in hospitals around the world found that those who were treated with chloroquine or its analogue hydroxychloroquine had a considerably higher risk of death than those who did not receive the antimalarial drugs. The findings, published last Friday in The Lancet medical journal, prompted the World Health Organization to halt global trials of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Trump suspended travel to the United States from Brazil as the South American country emerged as a new hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic. The new rule does not affect trade between the two nations.
Brazil now has the second-highest number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19, behind the United States.
3:50 a.m.: Blood clots clogged lungs of African American coronavirus victims, study finds
Autopsies on 10 African American patients who died from COVID-19 show their lungs were filled with blood clots, according to a new study.
The autopsies were performed at University Medical Center in New Orleans by a team of pathologists from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans. It’s believed to be the first autopsy series on African Americans whose cause of death was attributed to COVID-19, according to the study, which was published Wednesday in monthly scientific journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
“We found that the small vessels and capillaries in the lungs were obstructed by blood clots and associated hemorrhage that significantly contributed to decompensation and death in these patients,” Dr. Richard Vander Heide, head of pathology research at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, said in a statement. “We also found elevated levels of D-dimers — fragments of proteins involved in breaking down blood clots. What we did not see was myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, that early reports suggested significantly contributes to death from COVID-19.”
The small vessel clotting is a new finding that appears to be specific to COVID-19, according to the study.
The 10 deceased patients were black men and women between the ages of 40 and 70, many of whom had a history of hypertension, obesity, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. In all cases, the patients had experienced sudden respiratory decompensation or collapse at home approximately three to seven days after developing a mild cough and fever.
The new findings come after some U.S. states released mortality data based on race and ethnicity that show the novel coronavirus kills black Americans at a disproportionately high rate.
“Our study presents a large series of autopsies within a specific demographic experiencing the highest rate of adverse outcomes within the United States,” said Dr. Sharon Fox, another co-author of the study.
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