By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 623,000 people worldwide.
Over 15.2 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 or downplaying the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 143,190 deaths.
Here is how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:
7:16 a.m.: Flight attendant linked to Hawaiian Airlines COVID-19 cluster dies
A Hawaiian Airlines employee that recently contracted COVID-19 died this week, the company announced.
“I am very sad to report that one of our senior Los Angeles-based Flight Attendants, Jeff Kurtzman, passed away last night,” Hawaiian Airlines President & CEO Peter Ingram said in a statement. “He had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in California earlier this month.”
A few weeks ago, the airline reported that a number of employees tested positive for the virus after a training session.
“We continue to follow up with members of our ‘ohana who are recovering from the coronavirus,” Ingram’s statement said. “We are reminded every day that this virus is serious and highly transmissible. We have strengthened the mandates and protocols governing how we interact with each other at our facilities, and I urge us all to continue to practice the utmost vigilance.”
Kurtzman was a senior Los Angeles-based flight attendant, and worked for Hawaiian Airlines since 1986.
04:49 a.m.: Trump says testing is ‘overrated’
In a week where President Donald Trump has been more vocal about wearing masks and saying the coronavirus will “get worse before it gets better,” he also continued to say Wednesday that coronavirus testing is “overrated,” but “he’s willing to keep doing it.”
Trump, in an interview with Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel that aired Wednesday night, implied that the increased testing makes the U.S. “look bad” and said, “I don’t mind looking bad if it’s a good thing.”
This comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country nears four million.
“To me, every time you test a case it gets reported in the news, we found more cases. If instead of 50 we did 25, we have half the number of cases. So I personally think it’s overrated, but I am totally willing to keep doing it,” Trump said during the interview.
In the U.S., deaths in the last week were up 12.3% over the previous week, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News.
The memo also highlighted how some of the hardest-hit states, like Arizona, are facing tough choices to decide who gets care as hospitals run short on health care equipment and resources.
The mixed messaging this week continues as the president urged Americans to wear masks only to show up hours later at his Washington hotel at a fundraiser speaking to supporters without one.
During his interview with Siegel he said wearing masks “probably helps.”
“I don’t think it’s something that you have to do or should do,” he told FOX News. “But everyone around me has tested, so I’m not the perfect person to talk about it. But I believe that you should wear it, even if there’s a 1% chance it helps.”
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.