By MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 744,000 people worldwide.
Over 20.4 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 5 million diagnosed cases and at least 164,994 deaths.
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
1:15 p.m.: All NJ schools can reopen
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that he’s signing an executive order clearing pre-K through grade-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, to reopen for the upcoming academic year.
All of these schools can open if the institutions desire and if social distancing and other protections are strictly adhered to, Murphy said.
School districts that can’t meet all health and safety standards for in-class learning must begin the year with all-remote learning, Murphy said. Those districts must provide plans for reaching those standards and the anticipated date to be back in classrooms, he said.
Any student who chooses remote learning must be accommodated, he said.
“There is no one-size-fits all plan,” he tweeted.
12 p.m.: Big 12 Conference moves forward with fall sports including football
The Big 12 Conference will move forward with fall sports this year, officials announced Wednesday.
Athletes in high-contact sports including football will get three COVID-19 tests per week, officials said.
Schools not in the Big 12 Conference must follow those testing rules in the week leading up to games against Big 12 schools, officials said.
“We are comfortable in our institutions’ ability to provide a structured training environment, rigorous testing and surveillance, hospital quality sanitation and mitigation practices that optimize the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “We believe all of this combines to create an ideal learning and training situation during this time of COVID-19.”
“Ultimately, our student-athletes have indicated their desire to compete in the sports they love this season and it is up to all of us to deliver a safe, medically sound, and structured academic and athletic environment for accomplishing that outcome,” Bowlsby said.
Officials with the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences said Tuesday they are postponing all sports including football.
11:45 a.m.: No guests at the 2020 Masters
This year’s Masters Tournament will take place without any guests or patrons, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, said Wednesday.
The tournament, initially set for April, was rescheduled due to the pandemic and will be held Nov. 9 to Nov. 15.
“We determined that the potential risks of welcoming patrons and guests to our grounds in November are simply too significant to overcome,” Ridley said in a statement.
11 a.m.: Over 550,000 diagnosed in Florida
In hard-hit Florida, Miami-Dade County reported 4,105 new cases on Tuesday, the highest one-day reported total for the county during the pandemic, according to the state’s Department of Health.
This is likely due to a backlog of cases reported following the tracking system’s temporary shutdown. Miami-Dade County has been reporting a range between 1,210 and 1,808 new daily cases over the last week.
Over 550,000 people in the state have been diagnosed with COVID-19. At least 8,897 people have died, according to the Department of Health. The state reported 212 new deaths in the last 24 hours.
10 a.m.: 2020 Paris Marathon canceled
This year’s Paris Marathon, set for November, has now been canceled due to the pandemic, officials announced Wednesday.
Organizers said it would be especially difficult for runners coming from abroad to make it to the event.
Runners who were signed up for this year’s marathon are automatically signed up for next year’s, organizers said.
9 a.m.: NJ district to go all virtual after 402 teachers say they can’t work in school
New Jersey’s Elizabeth Public Schools will go 100% virtual after 402 teachers said they’d need “special considerations for health-related risks and cannot teach in person,” Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer said in a letter to parents Tuesday.
With five weeks until school begins and “insufficient staff to safely reopen,” “it is unfruitful to continue to pursue something that cannot occur,” Hugelmeyer wrote.
“We will spend the next five weeks working to create the best virtual experience possible,” she said.
Meanwhile, New Jersey educators are calling on Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s Department of Education to direct all state public schools to open remotely.
Dr. Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, Patricia Wright, executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association and Marie Blistan, president of the New Jersey Education Association, said in a letter Tuesday, “reopening schools for in-person instruction under the current conditions poses too great a risk to the health of students and schools staff.”
8:01 a.m.: Russia’s COVID-19 case count tops 900,000
Russia reported 5,102 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing its tally soaring past 900,000.
The country also reported an additional 129 fatalities. The nationwide total now stands at 902,701 confirmed cases with 15,260 deaths, according to data released Wednesday morning by Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.
Russia’s latest daily caseload is down from a peak of 11,656 new infections reported on May 11.
Russia has the fourth-highest highest number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the world, behind the United States, Brazil and India, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that his country has become the first in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine. Critics say the vaccine was approved before the final Phase III trial and that no scientific data from the early trials has been released so far.
7:16 a.m.: Over 1,000 students in Georgia school district under quarantine
More than 1,000 students in a single Georgia school district have been ordered to self-quarantine this month after at least 70 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in various schools.
The Cherokee County School District has published data on its website showing at least 1,130 students and 38 staff members from more than a dozen schools are under mandated two-week quarantines. The district reopened its schools on Aug. 3, welcoming back 30,000 students for in-person learning.
Many of the confirmed cases were identified at Etowah High School in Woodstock, Georgia. The Cherokee County School District announced Tuesday that it is temporarily closing Etowah High School, with the hope of resuming in-person classes there on Aug. 31.
“This decision was not made lightly,” the school district said in a statement Tuesday. “As of this morning, the number of positive cases at the school had increased to a total of 14, with tests for another 15 students pending; and, as a result of the confirmed cases, 294 students and staff are under quarantine and, should the pending tests prove positive, that total would increase dramatically.”
6:33 a.m.: First dog to test positive for COVID-19 in North Carolina dies
The first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in North Carolina has died, officials said.
The dog, who had been showing signs of respiratory distress, was brought to the NC State Veterinary Hospital on the evening of Aug. 3, after the owner noticed the onset of distress earlier in the day, according to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The dog ultimately succumbed to the “acute illness,” and its owner alerted veterinary staff that a member of the family had previously tested positive for the novel coronavirus but later tested negative.
Samples were collected from the dog and sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, which confirmed a positive test result for COVID-19. The dog’s family, along with state health officials, were notified.
“A necropsy was performed to try to determine the animal’s state of health at the time of death and the cause of death, and the complete investigation is ongoing,” the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Tuesday.
There is currently no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
5:20 a.m.: Two men facing charges for allegedly hosting house party in Nashville
Two men are facing criminal charges for violating public health emergency orders by allegedly throwing a large party at their house in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this month.
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has issued arrest warrants for Christopher Eubank, 40, and Jeffrey Mathews, 36, who were both reported to be out of state Tuesday night and have been told to surrender upon returning to Nashville. Eubank and Mathews are each charged with three separate counts — all misdemeanors — of violating health orders by hosting a gathering in excess of 25 people, not requiring social distancing and not requiring face coverings.
Police said hundreds of people attended the Aug. 1 party at the property owned by Eubank and Mathews, located on Fern Avenue in Tennessee’s capital. Patrol officers responded to the home late that night and ultimately directed that the party cease.
Cellphone footage, obtained by Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN-TV, purportedly shows large crowds of people at the party wearing no masks and not maintaining social distancing.
4:39 a.m.: Nearly one-third of Kentucky’s new cases among teens
Nearly one-third of new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky at the end of July were among those 19 years old or younger, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News Tuesday night.
In Mississippi, Black residents represented 58.5% of the state’s new cases during the period from July 5 through Aug. 1 — a 37.2% difference between cases and census racial distribution, according to the FEMA memo.
Meanwhile, the test-positivity rate was greater than 10% last week in Arkansas, where 5,593 additional cases were reported and two counties have emerged as new hotspots. Logan County reported 90 new cases last week, an increase of 428% and a test-positivity rate of 17.59%. Poinsett County reported 74 new cases, an increase of 189% and a test-positivity rate of 15.43%, according to the FEMA memo.
However, the national test-positivity rate continues to decline. Over the past seven days, the rate was 6.6% — down from 7.9% from the previous week. The nation also saw a 12.7% decrease in new cases as well as a 4.3% decrease in new deaths being confirmed over the last week, compared with the previous seven-day period, according to the FEMA memo.
The memo shows that just five states and territories are in an upward trajectory of new cases, while two states are at a plateau and 49 states are going down.
3:45 a.m.: US records more than 1,000 new deaths from COVID-19
There were 46,808 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
An additional 1,082 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported — more than double the amount from the previous day.
Still, it’s the third consecutive day that the nation has recorded less than 50,000 new cases. Tuesday’s caseload is also well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.
A total of 5,141,208 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 164,537 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, the nationwide number of new cases and deaths in the last week have both decreased in week-over-week comparisons, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News Tuesday night.
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