By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1 million people worldwide.
Over 38.5 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 criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has varied from country-to-country. Still, 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 virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica.
The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 7.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 216,903 deaths.
California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 865,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 832,000 cases and over 741,000 cases, respectively.
More than 190 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.
Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:
Oct 15, 10:54 am
Hong Kong, Singapore announce forthcoming ‘travel bubble’
Officials in Hong Kong and Singapore announced an agreement to establish a bilateral Air Travel Bubble in an effort to revive cross-border air travel between the two aviation hubs.
Citing low incidents of COVID-19 infections and ‘robust’ anti-transmission mechanisms, Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye said it is a “safe, careful but significant step forward to revive air travel, and provide a model for future collaboration with other parts of the world.”
Hong Kong and Singapore are both major financial hubs, and the international air route between the two cities was among the busiest in the Asia-Pacific region before the pandemic took shape, officials said in a statement.
They did not offer details about a potential launch date.
-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.
Oct 15, 10:05 am
Harris shuts down travel after 2 test positive
The Biden campaign has announced that two people traveling with Sen. Harris in Arizona, Communications Director Liz Allen, and a non-staff flight crew member, have tested positive for COVID-19
“Senator Harris was not in close contact, as defined by the CDC, with either of these individuals during the two days prior to their positive tests; as such, there is no requirement for quarantine,” Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, said in a statement.
“Neither of these people have had contact with Vice President Biden, Senator Harris or any other staffers since testing positive or in the 48 hours prior to their positive test results,” she added.
The campaign is canceling Harris’ travel through Sunday “out of an abundance of caution and in line with our campaign’s commitment to the highest levels of precaution.”
Harris will return to in-person campaigning on Monday.
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle contributed to this report.
Oct 15, 9:41 am
898,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that another 898,000 people filed first-time jobless claims last week, highlighting how new layoffs are persisting at historical highs more than six months since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week’s initial unemployment claims tally also shows a concerning spike of more than 53,000 compared to the previous week’s revised figure.
The total number of people in the United States claiming state and federal unemployment benefits topped 25.2 million for the week ending Sept. 26. In comparison, 1.4 million people claimed benefits for the same week last year, according to the Labor Department.
The U.S. states that saw the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Oct. 3 were Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts. New Jersey, Kansas and Pennsylvania saw the largest decreases during that same time, the Labor Department said.
The level of new weekly unemployment claims has stagnated near the 850,000 mark for the past few weeks, a significant drop from when they peaked at 6.9 million in the last week of March. For context, the previous record for weekly unemployment claims was 695,000 in 1982 — a record that has been shattered for 30 straight weeks in 2020.
Oct 15, 8:32 am
Fauci sounds alarm over rising infections as winter nears
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on the coronavirus pandemic, said the recent rise in COVID-19 infections across the United States is “concerning” as winter nears.
“We have a baseline of daily infections that are approximately 45-50,000 per day,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Thursday on Good Morning America.
“The issue is as we enter — as we are now — into the cooler season of the fall and ultimately the colder season of the winter,” he added, “you don’t want to be in that compromised position where your baseline daily infection is high and you are increasing as opposed to going in the other direction.”
Dozens of U.S. states are reporting upticks in COVID-19 test positivity rates, which Fauci said “has proven in the past to be a very good prediction of a surge in cases, which ultimately leads to a surge in hospitalizations.”
“Then ultimately in some individuals, that obviously will be an increase in deaths,” he added. “So we really got to double down on the fundamental public health measures that we talk about every single day, because they can make a difference.”
Fauci, who said that his adult daughters won’t be spending Thanksgiving with him and his wife this year due to concerns about spreading the virus, urged families to be careful during the upcoming holidays and evaluate both the risks and benefits of gathering indoors.
“It’s up to the individuals and the choices they make,” he said.
Oct 15, 7:58 am
Fauci calls ‘herd immunity’ declaration embraced by White House ‘ridiculous’
A declaration by a group of scientists calling for an approach that relies on “herd immunity” to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, which has been embraced by the White House, is “ridiculous” and “total nonsense,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases.
“That declaration has a couple things in it that I think are fooling people, because it says things that are like apple pie and motherhood,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Thursday on Good Morning America.
The so-called Great Barrington Declaration, which claims on its website to have been signed by more than 9,000 medical and public health scientists around the globe, opposes lockdowns and argues that authorities should allow the novel coronavirus to spread among young, healthy individuals while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable.
“If you just let things rip and let the infection go — no masks, crowd, it doesn’t make any difference — that quite frankly, George, is ridiculous because what that will do is that there will be so many people in the community that you can’t shelter, that you can’t protect, who are going to get sick and get serious consequences,” Fauci said. “So this idea that we have the power to protect the vulnerable is total nonsense, because history has shown that that’s not the case. And if you talk to anybody who has any experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases, they will tell you that that is risky and you’ll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and deaths. So I think that we just got to look that square in the eye and say it’s nonsense.”
Oct 15, 7:16 am
London expected to move to higher COVID-19 alert level
The U.K. government is expected to impose new restrictions in London as part of efforts to stop the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.
Under England’s new three-tier system of local COVID-19 alert levels, the British capital is expected to move up a level from “medium” — the first tier — to “high” — the second tier — at midnight on Friday. That means people from different households will no longer be allowed to meet indoors, including in homes, pubs and restaurants. Groups of no more than six people from different households can still meet outdoors.
Pubs and restaurants across London will continue to be allowed to stay open until 10 p.m.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the new measures are “deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners” but that he believes action is also needed “on a national scale,” such as implementing a two-week lockdown. He said the city will soon reach an average of 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, a level some parts of England have already surpassed.
“I must warn Londoners that we’ve got a difficult winter ahead,” Khan said in a televised statement Thursday. “But just as we’ve always done through our city’s great history, I know that we’ll get through this dark time by pulling together.”
The move comes as England saw its number of infections quadruple in the last three weeks. There are now more patients hospitalized with COVID-19 than when the country went into lockdown in late March, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Oct 15, 6:18 am
Russia reports record daily death toll from COVID-19
Russia registered another 286 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, setting a new record for its daily death tolls from the disease.
The country’s previous record of 244 fatalities was set earlier this week.
An additional 13,754 new cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed in the past day, down from a peak of 14,231 registered the previous day. It’s the first time in seven days that Russia didn’t break its own record for single-day case counts.
The cumulative totals now stand at 1,354,163 confirmed cases and 23,491 deaths, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.
Russia, a country of 145 million people, has the fourth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India and Brazil.
Oct 15, 5:40 am
US national positivity rate for COVID-19 tests jumps to 6%
The national positivity rate for COVID-19 tests across the United States has jumped from 4.7% to 6% in week-to-week comparisons, according to an internal memo from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that was obtained by ABC News on Wednesday night.
The memo, which is circulated to the highest levels of the federal government and is used to determine daily priorities for the agencies working on COVID-19 response, said 38 U.S. states and territories are in an upward trajectory of new infections, while four jurisdictions are at a plateau and 14 others are in a downward trend.
There were 359,745 new cases confirmed during the period of Oct. 7-Oct. 13, a 17.1% increase from the previous week. There were also 4,962 fatalities from COVID-19 recorded during the same period, a 2.1% decrease compared with the week prior, according to the memo.
Meanwhile, 24% of hospitals nationwide have more than 80% of beds full in their intensive care units. That figure was 17-18% during the summertime peak, the memo said.
In Arizona, 6.71% of the state’s prison population — 2,599 inmates — has tested positive for COVID-19, along with 712 prison staff. At least 17 inmates have died from the disease, according to the memo.
The number of new cases recorded in Washington, D.C., increased by 84% over the past week, after dropping to its lowest levels since July. The nation’s capital reported an average of 81% of its inpatient beds occupied and 74.2% of intensive care unit beds occupied, the memo said.
Idaho’s positivity rate for COVID-19 tests surged to 14.7% for the week ending Oct. 8, twice the national rate during the same period, according to the memo.
Indiana saw a 27.5% week-to-week rise in cases and a 23.4% week-to-week increase in deaths from COVID-19, as of Oct. 11. The state reported three consecutive days of record-high daily case counts from Oct. 8 to Oct. 10. The state’s seven-day COVID-19 hospitalization rate reached a five-month peak at 17.3 per 100,000 population on Oct. 11, the memo said.
Minnesota’s seven-day COVID-19 hospitalization rate also hit a five-month peak at 11.3 per 100,000 population on Oct.11. Minnesota reported a 19% increase in cases between the weeks ending Oct. 4 and Oct. 11, which state health officials said is linked to widespread transmission rather than clustered outbreaks, according to the memo.
Mississippi saw a 22.4% increase in COVID-19 cases in the week ending Oct. 11, compared to the previous week. The seven-day and 14-day averages for new cases continued to rise statewide, reaching levels not seen since early September. State officials are concerned that Mississippi is at the start of a second surge and have estimated that the cause of the increasing spread is sustained community transmission. Six major hospitals in the state were reported to have no more ICU surge capacity, the memo said.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has devastated the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, with the disease infecting more than 10% of the tribe and killing at least 81 of them, according to the memo.
North Carolina and Tennessee are two of five U.S. states that reported a greater than 50% increase in COVID-19 cases over the past week, the memo said.
COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise across Ohio, with the state’s seven-day rate at 11.9 per 100,000 population on Oct. 11, according to the memo.
Pennsylvania recorded its highest daily case count in six months on Oct. 10 with 1,742 new cases. Multiple counties across the state reported a doubling of new cases during the period of Oct. 5-11, the memo said.
Oct 15, 4:45 am
US reports nearly 60,000 new cases in highest daily count since August
There were 59,494 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Wednesday, the country’s highest daily tally since Aug. 14, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The latest daily tally is up by more than 7,000 from the previous day but still falls under the country’s record set on July 16, when there were 77,255 new cases in a 24-hour-reporting period.
An additional 985 coronavirus-related fatalities were also recorded Wednesday, up by nearly 200 from the previous day but down from a peak of 2,666 new fatalities reported on April 17.
A total of 7,916,532 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 216,903 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. The daily tally of new cases has gradually come down since then but has started to climb again in recent weeks.
The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded in the United States increased by double digits in week-over-week comparisons, while the number of new deaths from the disease continued to tick downward slightly, according to an internal memo from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that was obtained by ABC News on Wednesday night.
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