By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 700,000 people worldwide.
Over 18.5 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 national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 4.7 million diagnosed cases and at least 156,830 deaths.
Here’s how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:
7:50 a.m.: Bolivia cancels the rest of its school year
Schools across Bolivia will remain closed for the rest of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Interim Bolivian President Jeanine Anez announced the decision earlier this week.
“Today we make the decision to close the school year,” Anez wrote in Spanish on Twitter. “It is very hard, but we do it to take care of the health of Bolivians, especially our children. Health is the most important thing, especially at this time.”
Last week, the South American nation’s highest electoral authority postponed the presidential election from Sept. 8 to Oct. 18 due to the pandemic, marking the third time the vote has been delayed.
More than 83,000 people in Bolivia have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and at least 3,320 of them have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
7:09 a.m.: Democratic and Republican governors band together to fill testing void
A bipartisan group of at least seven governors has teamed up with the Rockefeller Foundation to try to expand the use of rapid antigen tests to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, clinched the deal with the New York City-based private foundation in “the first interstate testing compact of its kind among governors during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a press release. The governors of Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia have all signed on to the agreement.
The governors are now in talks with the U.S. manufactures of the Food and Drug Administation-authorized fast-acting tests, which deliver results in 15-20 minutes, to purchase 500,000 per state, for a total of three million tests.
“With severe shortages and delays in testing and the federal administration attempting to cut funding for testing, the states are banding together to acquire millions of faster tests to help save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Hogan said in a statement Tuesday night. “I want to thank my fellow governors for signing on to this groundbreaking bipartisan agreement, which we have just finalized after weeks of discussions with the Rockefeller Foundation. We will be working to bring additional states, cities, and local governments on board as this initiative moves forward.”
5:14 a.m.: Global death toll tops 700,000
More than 700,000 people around the world have now died from the novel coronavirus — another grim milestone in the pandemic.
As of early Wednesday morning, the global death toll from COVID-19 was at 700,741, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
3:37 a.m.: US daily case count shoots back up over 50,000
More than 57,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The latest daily caseload is about 10,000 more than the previous day’s increase but still lower than the country’s record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.
A total of 4,771,519 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 156,830 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 70,000 for the first time in mid-July.
Many states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some — including Arizona, California and Florida — reporting daily records.
However, an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News on Monday night shows an 8.8% decrease in new cases across the United States over the past week compared with the previous week. That same seven-day span saw a 24% increase in deaths, according to the memo.
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