By JON HAWORTH, EMILY SHAPIRO and MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 671,000 people worldwide.Over 17.2 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 4.4 million diagnosed cases and at least 152,055 deaths.
Here is how the news developed Thursday. All times Eastern:
9:50 p.m.: NYC announces testing, tracing plans for reopening schoolsAfter announcing a plan earlier this month to reopen schools partially in-person, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have now shared more details on their health and safety protocols, including testing and tracing measures.Students and staff who are feeling sick will be required to stay home and asked to get tested if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19.If there is a confirmed case in a classroom, all students and teachers in close contact with that person will have to self-quarantine for 14 days, and the classroom will transition to remote learning during that time. A school will close and go fully virtual for 14 days if a link is unable to be determined between at least two cases.Leading up to the first day of school, all staff members will have to be tested. They will have priority access for free testing with expedited results at 34 locations, the city said. Families will also have access to this testing, it said.School districts in New York have until the end of the month to submit their plans to the governor, who said he will decide on them by Aug. 7.New York City is the largest school district in the country with 1.1 million students.8:40 p.m.: Texas adjusts total COVID-19 fatalities following errorThe Texas health department revised the total number of deaths reported on several days this week following an “automation error,” the agency said Thursday.According to an update posted on its COVID-19 dashboard, approximately 225 erroneous deaths were included in the cumulative fatalities from July 27 to 29 due to the error. The issue was discovered late Wednesday during a manual quality check, the update said.As a result, the total number of deaths reported on Wednesday changed from 6,190 to 5,952, according to a spokesman. The total numbers reported on Monday and Tuesday were also updated.Based on the revised data, on Thursday, the state reported 322 new COVID-19 deaths, which would be a record. There have been 6,274 total deaths reported.Starting Monday, the state health department changed how it reports COVID-19 fatalities. It is now identifying them through the cause of death listed on death certificates. Previously, it would count them as they were reported publicly by local health departments. The new method allows for fatalities to be counted faster and with more demographic data, the department said.Following the change, the number of total deaths reported in the state increased from 5,038 on Sunday to 5,713 on Monday.
5:46 p.m.: New cases dropped nationwide by nearly 20,000 this weekThe U.S. saw the first week-over-week decrease in new COVID-19 cases since early June, The COVID Tracking Project reported Thursday.The number of new cases fell by nearly 20,000, from 468,000 last week to 448,198, this week, the data project found.In a blog post, managing editor Erin Kissane and science communication lead Jessica Malaty Rivera noted that testing growth has slowed in recent weeks, “which makes it difficult to understand how much of the decline in new cases reflects declining outbreaks or backlogged reporting.” Data on hospitalizations, which would normally help determine the severity of an outbreak, is currently unreliable due to changes in federal reporting methods, they said.Deaths from COVID-19 have continued to increase. States reported 6,778 deaths this week, up 16%, according to The COVID Tracking Project.5 p.m.: Test-positivity rate above 10% across LouisianaLouisiana is now experiencing the largest number of daily deaths that the state has seen in about 2 1/2 months, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.In every region of Louisiana, the test-positivity rate is over 10%, he said. As of July 24, Louisiana’s overall test-positivity rate was 14.34%.State officials estimate that Louisiana has about 38,000 known, active COVID-19 cases, not including the 25% to 40% of people who are not symptomatic, the governor said.”The situation remains very, very serious,” Edwards said. “There is more COVID-19 in Louisiana and in every community across Louisiana than in any point up ’til now.”
3:46 p.m.: WHO says major challenge is ‘convincing young people of this risk’ To the World Health Organization’s director general, one challenge of the pandemic “is convincing young people of this risk.””Evidence suggests that spikes of cases in some countries are being driven, in part, by younger people letting down their guard during the northern hemisphere summer,” WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.”We have said it before, and we will say it again: young people are not invincible,” he said.Coronavirus cases among young people are on the rise in the U.S., from Louisiana to Texas to Tennessee to Connecticut.In New Jersey, 35 cases were linked to social gatherings among lifeguards, according to a FEMA memo, while in Illinois, 73 people were part of an outbreak linked to Fourth of July parties, reported ABC Chicago station WLS.Tedros urged young people to be “leaders and drivers of change” by taking the appropriate precautions.3:08 p.m.: Ohio reaches new high daily number of cases Ohio reported 1,733 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — its highest daily count ever, Gov. Mike DeWine said.DeWine said he’s requested that the state Liquor Control Commission meet on Friday to consider an “emergency rule related to liquor sales.””If the emergency statewide administrative rule is approved, I intend to sign an Executive Order that would make it effective Friday night,” DeWine tweeted. “I continue to have grave concerns about the spread of coronavirus at establishments that serve alcohol for onsite consumption. We have seen outbreaks associated with bars across Ohio.””Bars, by their nature, lend themselves to a revolving door of people in close contact, oftentimes indoors,” he continued. “Patrons either stay at one location, sometimes for hours or bar hop. Either way, they interact with many different people.”2:45 p.m.: Brazil’s First Lady tests positiveThe First Lady of Brazil, as well as a fifth member of President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, officials said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro appeared to be in good health, a statement said, according to the AP.The first confirmation that President Bolsonaro tested positive for COVID-19 came on July 7. He had at least four positive test results and then this Saturday he said he tested negative.Brazil has the second-highest coronavirus cases and fatalities in the world, behind the U.S.2:05 p.m.: Mount Everest to reopen for fall climbing seasonNepal will reopen Mount Everest to climbers for the September to November season, officials said Thursday, according to Reuters.Nepal has experienced a steady rise in COVID-19 cases, Reuters said. Climbers will have to adhere to the government’s health protocols, a tourism department official said, according to Reuters.
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.