By JON HAWORTH and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 668,000 people worldwide.Over 17 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 4.4 million diagnosed cases and at least 151,269 deaths.
Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Check back for updates.
1:35 p.m.: Ohio pharmacy board withdraws hydroxychloroquine banThe Ohio Board of Pharmacy has withdrawn its new rule prohibiting the sale or distribution of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 after facing opposition from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the Dayton Daily News reported Thursday.DeWine said in a statement earlier on Thursday, “I agree with the statement from Dr. Steven Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, that the decision about prescribing hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 should be between a doctor and a patient.””Therefore, I am asking the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to halt their new rule,” DeWine said. “The Board of Pharmacy and the State Medical Board of Ohio should revisit the issue, listen to the best medical science, and open the process up for comment and testimony from experts.”Hydroxychloroquine, which has been used and praised by President Donald Trump, had its emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 revoked by the FDA in June.Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told “Good Morning America” Tuesday, “The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.”
1:15 p.m.: Cuomo says tri-state quarantine wouldn’t apply to NJAs coronavirus cases rise in New Jersey, it is possible the Garden State could soon mathematically be added to its own tri-state travel advisory. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday there will be no blockade from New Jersey.”I don’t know how you could quarantine New Jersey,” Cuomo said on a conference call.”They’ve been our neighbor all through this,” Cuomo said. “We are going to keep our fingers crossed and work with them to keep the numbers down.”Among the new emerging hot spots are New Jersey’s Camden County, located near Philadelphia, and Mercer County, which includes Princeton and Trenton, according to Thursday’s “daily hot spot triage” report distributed by the Department of Homeland Security.Camden and Mercer counties had not been on the hot spot list since April 13.Atlantic County, New Jersey, which includes Atlantic City, has also returned to the list, last appearing on May 3.New York, New Jersey and Connecticut’s travel advisory list applies to states with a seven-day average of positive tests over 10% or number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents.
12:20 p.m.: DC public schools to hold all classes onlineAll Washington, D.C., public school students will learn by 100% virtual classes from Aug. 31 to Nov. 6, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday.Over 12,000 people in D.C. have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to city data.Earlier this week, D.C. was added to New York’s travel advisory list, meaning D.C.’s seven-day average of positive tests was over 10% or the district’s number of positive cases exceeded 10 per 100,000 residents.
12 p.m.: Ohio gov. opposes Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s hydroxychloroquine banOhio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that he opposes the Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s new rule prohibiting the selling or dispensing of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19.”I agree with the statement from Dr. Steven Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, that the decision about prescribing hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 should be between a doctor and a patient,” DeWine said in a statement. “The Board of Pharmacy and the State Medical Board of Ohio should revisit the issue, listen to the best medical science, and open the process up for comment and testimony from experts.”Hydroxychloroquine, which has been used and praised by President Donald Trump, had its emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 revoked by the FDA in June.Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told “Good Morning America” Tuesday, “The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.”
11:17 a.m.: Florida reports 3rd consecutive day of record deathsFor the third day in a row, a new record-high number of deaths were reported in hard-hit Florida, according to the state’s Department of Health.In the last 24 hours, 253 new fatalities were reported, the department said.As of Thursday morning, 16.5% of Florida’s adult ICU beds were available, according to the state’s Agency for Healthcare Administration;Five counties — Jackson, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee and Putnam — had no available ICU beds, according to the agency.These numbers are expected to fluctuate throughout the day as hospitals and medical centers provide updates.
10:30 a.m.: Herman Cain dies after battle with COVID-19Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has died at the age of 74, according to a post on his personal website, nearly one month after his coronavirus diagnosis was announced.A source close to the White House also confirmed his death to ABC News.Cain’s hospitalization was announced on July 2.A spokesperson for Cain said on Monday that he remained hospitalized and was being treated with oxygen for his lungs.”The doctors say his other organs and systems are strong,” the spokesperson added.Cain, a Black Voices for Trump co-chair, attended President Donald Trump’s June 20 rally in Tulsa. Cain was photographed inside the arena without wearing a mask and sitting in close proximity to others.The businessman and radio talk show host campaigned for the Republican nomination in 2012.
10 a.m.: 33% increase in cases among Tennessee’s kidsTennessee has experienced a 33% jump in coronavirus cases among children in the last 10 days, ABC Memphis affiliate WATN reported.And in some parts of rural west Tennessee, cases among kids have surged by more than 100%, WATN reported.Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said at a news conference Tuesday that reopening schools for in-classroom learning is the “best option” and “planned delays should be reserved for the most extreme situations,” The Tennesseean reported.
9:10 a.m.: NJ sees 112% increase in cases, deaths double in Atlanta areaAn internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News highlights a surge in New Jersey and a doubling death toll in the Atlanta area. New Jersey saw 2,066 new coronavirus cases in the last week (ending July 27) — a 112% increase from the week prior, the memo said.Beach town Long Beach Island reported 35 cases linked to social gatherings among lifeguards, the memo said. And in nearby Connecticut, 943 new cases were reported for the week ending July 27 — a 77.9% increase from the week prior. People under the age of 30 made up 40% of those new cases, the memo said.Meanwhile in Georgia, the number of new COVID-19 deaths in the last week nearly doubled in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs area. The week ending July 20 saw 71 deaths while the week ending July 27 brought 139 deaths, the memo said.In some parts of Georgia, some patients were forced to wait in ambulances because of the surge in COVID-19 patients, the memo said. In Alabama, new cases are increasing despite a 28.3% decrease in new tests administered, the memo said. As of Monday, only 12% of Alabama’s ICU beds were available. A record high number of ICU beds were filled, with 496 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
4:46 a.m.: Dispatchers stop asking 911 callers about COVID-19 symptoms, raising concerns for firefightersCallers to 911 in Houston will no longer be asked if they are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, changing a months-long practice to pass on the information to first responders. Firefighters are now told to treat every call as if the patient or home is COVID-positive.Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said the change is an admission of the widespread nature of the virus in the city and out of concern that callers were not always offering true information.For months, Pena pleaded with the public to give honest answers to protect firefighters, who have sustained large numbers of COVID-forced quarantines.The change was announced on the same day the Houston Fire Department attended a funeral for Capt. Leroy Lucio, Houston’s first firefighter to die from COVID-19.Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association president Marty Lancton told ABC13 he can’t understand why the department would want less information for firefighters instead of more.”Less information to the men and women on the front lines responding to calls is dangerous to firefighters, paramedics and citizens of Houston,” Lancton said.Chief Pena explained the change to HFD members in a memo obtained by 13 Investigates: “The prevalence of COVID-19 is high in the Houston area and COVID-19 cannot be ‘ruled out’ in the field nor appropriately screened via OEC. In the best interest of HFD members’ health and well-being, all addresses and patients should be considered as possible COVID-19 positive places and patients. No attempts should be made or opinions formed to consider and treat any patient as ‘non-COVID."”The change is the second in recent weeks affecting COVID-19 information in dispatch. Earlier in July, the department stopped logging addresses of COVID-19 positive patients in the city-wide dispatch system. Chief Pena says that was taking too much time to enter thousands of cases in an antiquated system one by one.
3:23 a.m.: Global confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpass 17 millionGlobally, there are now more than 17 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, per John Hopkins University tally.The current number now stands at 17,031,281 but 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 global tally surpassed 15 million just eight days ago on July 22. Just four days later on July 26, the 16 million mark was reached.
2:38 a.m.: Gov. DeSantis extends eviction and foreclosure moratorium until Sept. 1Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until Sept. 1.The ban was initially set to expire on Aug. 1 but the governor extended it for the third time in three months after the moratorium began in April.State Rep. Ana Eskamani, D-Orlando, tweeted the news saying: “BREAKING— Eviction and foreclosure moratorium has been extended for another month.”DeSantis issued the executive order without comment.2:11 a.m.: Florida to pause COVID testing due to tropical weatherThe Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) announced that all state-supported drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing sites will temporarily close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, in anticipation of impacts from Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine.Testing sites are closing out of an abundance of caution to keep individuals operating and attending the sites safe. All sites have free standing structures including tents and other equipment, which cannot withstand tropical storm force winds, and could cause damage to people and property if not secured.Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine is expected to impact Florida with heavy rains and strong winds arriving to South Florida as early as Friday. The sites will remain closed until they are safe to reopen, with all sites anticipated to be reopened at the latest by 8 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 5.Free COVID-19 testing remains available through local County Health Departments. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.