The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 631,000 people worldwide.
Over 15.4 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 governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 4 million diagnosed cases and at least 144,167 deaths.
Here is how the news develooped Thursday. All times Eastern. Check back for updates.
7:57 p.m.: Princess extends pause on cruises
Don’t expect to be taking a cruise on Princess Cruises anytime soon. The cruise line has extended its pause on global operations through Dec. 15.
Cruises sailing out of Australia are the only ones not paused until December, though the Majestic Princess, Regal Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess and Sun Princess, all sailing out of Australia, will be on pause through Oct. 31.
One of the first major breakouts of the novel coronavirus took place on the Diamond Princess, off the coast of Japan, in February.
“We share in our guests’ disappointment in cancelling these cruises,” Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises’ president, said in a statement. “We look forward to the days when we can return to travel and the happiness it brings to all who cruise.”
6:54 p.m.: Arizona emphasizes choice for parents on in-person schooling
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday that every parent will have the choice the send their child to an in-person classroom or have their child receive teacher-led distance learning. While the start of school had already been delayed, Ducey guaranteed there would be a full 180 days of instruction this school year.
“Maximum flexibility” will be given to local school leaders, he said. The Arizona Department of Health Services will develop and release health benchmarks for when and how in-person learning can begin.
All adults in schools will have face coverings. Students will wear face coverings most of the day, but will be given multiple opportunities to take breaks, including outdoor playground settings, and other breaks throughout the day in a safe environment.
The governor said many key indicator trends are pointing in the right direction in the state, including intensive care unit and hospital bed usage being down and a decrease in positive tests.
In order to keep the state moving in the correct direction, Ducey announced that the closures would be extended for gyms, bars, nightclubs, waterparks and tubing.
6:31 p.m.: CDC issues new guidance on schools, pushing for reopening
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines Thursday evening for the return to in-person learning — heavily leaning toward reopening. The guidance does not offer specific guidance by state or location, but rather schools as a whole.
“The best available evidence from countries that have opened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children, at least in areas with low community transmission, and suggests that children are unlikely to be major drivers of the spread of the virus,” the conclusion of the guidance reads. “Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets — our children — while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families.”
The guidance outlines five areas — educational instruction, social and emotional skill development, safety, nutrition and physical activity — where students can benefit from in-person learning. The CDC also recommends face coverings, temperature screenings and emphasizes sick children should not attend classes.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed for a return to in-person learning, saying on Wednesday he would be comfortable sending his son or grandchildren to classes.
On Thursday, during his daily COVID briefing, he indicated governors should have more control after previously saying the federal government should set the tone.
“In cities or states that are current hot spots, and you’ll see that in the map behind me, districts may need to delay reopening for a few weeks, and that’s possible,” Trump said. “That’ll be up to governors.The decision should be made based on the data and the facts on the grounds in each community, but every district should be actively making preparations to open.”
5:51 p.m.: Disney delays slate of movies
Walt Disney Studios has delayed dozens of movies, some not even named, as movie theaters continue to deal with the ongoing pandemic and resulting closures.
“The Personal History of David Copperfield,” starring Dev Patel and Tilda Swinton and directed by “Veep” creator Armando Iannucci, has been delayed two weeks to Aug. 28. The live-action “Mulan,” already repeatedly delayed, has been pushed off once more, this time to a date to be determined.
“Death on the Nile,” directed by Kennth Branagh and starring Gal Gadot, will now be released Oct. 23, two weeks later than originally planned. The latest Wes Anderson film, “The French Dispatch,” with Bill Murray, Timothee Chalamet and Benicio del Toro, is now also entirely removed from the schedule — it was originally to be released in October — and will premiere at a date to be determined.
“The Last Duel,” written by and starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and directed by Ridley Scott — and sure to rack up plenty of award nominations — was supposed to be released on Christmas. It has now been bumped all the way to Oct. 15, 2021.
And finally, the “Avatar” sequels — still set to be released eventually — have been bumped from release in 2021, 2023 and 2025 to 2022, 2024 and 2026.
The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC News.
3:30 p.m.: California reports record number of daily fatalities
California on Thursday reported 157 new deaths — a record number of daily fatalities, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The state’s death toll has now climbed to 8,027.
In the last two weeks, California’s ICU cases have jumped by 15.6%, the department of public health said.
California has now surpassed New York to have the nation’s highest number of COVID-19 cases.
As of Thursday, California had over 421,000 cases while New York had over 409,000.
California becomes the second state on Thursday to report a new daily fatality record — Florida also recorded a new daily record with 173 coronavirus fatalities.
3 p.m.: University of Arizona offering in-person classes in August
The University of Arizona said Thursday it plans to reopen on Aug. 24 and offer in-person classes, despite the state’s surge in coronavirus cases.
Classes will also be offered as flex in-person, as live online and as iCourses. Students can choose the option that “best meet their needs,” university President Robert Robbins said Thursday.
“Currently, more than 50% of all classes have some in-person component,” he said.
Students living in dorms will get an antigen test — a newer COVID-19 test which detects certain proteins in the virus — before moving in, Robbins said. Anyone who tests positive will isolate for 10 days.
COVID-19 testing will be available for all staff, faculty and off-campus students, he added.
Meal services will also be adjusted to encourage distancing, Robbins said.
When it comes to all plans for this school year, Robbins added, “if we need to adjust, we will.”
Arizona has over 152,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19. The state’s positivity rate stands at 12.5%, according to state data.
2:25 p.m.: Positivity rate up to 13.2% among young New Yorkers
New York is monitoring a rise in coronavirus cases among those ages 21 to 31 — the only age bracket in the state to see an increase.
New Yorkers in their 20s or early 30s now have a 13.2% positivity rate — up from 9.9% one week earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
Cuomo cautioned that the Albany area saw nearly 30 new positive cases linked to one 4th of July party.
Those traveling to New York from states with a positivity rate higher than 10% over a one-week average are required to self-quarantine when arriving in the Empire State.
1:50 p.m.: CDC predicts up to 175,000 deaths in US by Aug. 15
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the U.S. should anticipate between 160,000 and 175,000 total reported COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 15.
National and state-level ensemble forecasts suggest that the number of new U.S. deaths over the next four weeks will likely exceed the number reported over the last four weeks.
States with the greatest likelihood of a larger number of deaths include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
12:20 p.m.: WHO director-general urges ‘young people to start a global movement for health’
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday urged “young people to start a global movement for health.”
“In recent years we’ve seen young people leading grassroots movements for climate change and racial equality,” Tedros said at a media briefing. “Now we need young people to start a global movement for health — for a world in which health is a human right, not a privilege.”
“We will not be going back to the ‘old normal.’ The pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives. Part of adjusting to the ‘new normal’ is finding ways to live our lives safely,” Tedros said. “We’re asking everyone to treat the decisions about where they go, what they do and who they meet with as life-and-death decisions — because they are. It may not be your life, but your choices could be the difference between life and death for someone you love, or for a complete stranger.”
There have been recent outbreaks linked to nightclubs and other social gatherings, Tedros said, stressing, “We all have a part to play in protecting ourselves and one another.”
Tedros urged people to follow these two guidelines.
“First, know your situation. Do you know how many cases were reported where you live yesterday? Do you know where to find that information?” he said.
“Second, do you know how to minimize your exposure? Are you being careful to keep at least 1 meter from others? Are you still cleaning your hands regularly? Are you following the advice of your local authorities?” Tedros said. “No matter where you live or how old you are, you can be a leader in your community, not just to defeat the pandemic, but to build back better.”
10:55 a.m.: Florida reports new daily death toll record
Florida’s Department of Health reported an increase of 173 coronavirus fatalities on Thursday — a new daily record.
The previous record was 156 fatalities on July 16. At least 5,632 people in Florida have now died from COVID-19, according to the state’s Department of Health.
As of Thursday morning, Florida’s hospitals had just 15.67% of adult ICU beds available, according to the state’s Agency for Healthcare Administration.
Four counties — Hernando, Monroe, Okeechobee and Putnam — had no available ICU beds, the agency said.
These numbers are expected to fluctuate throughout the day as hospitals and medical centers provide updates.
9:48 a.m.: Kids account for 1 in 10 cases in San Antonio area, young adults causing spread in Wash. state, FEMA says
Nationally, deaths in the last week are up 12.3% over the previous week, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News.
In Texas, the positivity rate reached 19.2 % — double the national average of 9%, the memo said.
In Bexar County, Texas, which includes San Antonio, children under 18 now account for 1 in 10 new cases, according to the FEMA memo.
Meanwhile, Washington state was in early stages of an exponential statewide outbreak as of July 17, according to the FEMA memo.
Washington state recorded 5,986 new cases in the week ending July 20 — a 25.5% increase from the week prior, the memo said.
Spread in Washington state is being driven by social gatherings and people in their 20s, the memo said.
9 a.m.: FEMA administrator downplays persistent PPE shortages
In an appearance on “Good Morning America” Thursday, FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor tried to downplay persistent personal protection equipment (PPE) shortages and stressed that the US is on stronger footing now than in March or April.
Gaynor admitted there “may be” some shortages and said gear may need to be moved around the country to surge resources to where they are needed most.
“There may be places that have high cases, high hospitalizations, that do have some shortages,” he said. “We’re in a much better place and we can move PPE from around the country to where it’s needed the most.”
When pressed about the doctors and nurses on the front lines without PPE, Gaynor responded, “If there is a hospital out there that does not have PPE, contact their state emergency manager, contact their state health director, and we will get PPE to you.”
Gaynor also attributed PPE challenges to the fact that the gear is largely manufactured outside the U.S.
With hurricane season approaching, Gaynor said FEMA is prepared to deal with the simultaneous threats of potential natural disasters on top of the pandemic.
“We’ve been at COVID-19 for months now. The agency has been up and running dealing with COVID-19. But we also have been preparing for the hurricane season. We knew it was coming,” Gaynor said.
He said guidance has been sent to hurricane-prone areas on how to adapt their response plans as they also deal with the virus.
8:20 a.m.: Over 10,000 health workers in Africa infected with COVID-19, WHO says
Over 10,000 health workers in Africa have been infected with COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Only 7.8% of Africa’s health care centers have isolation capacities and just a third have the capacity to triage patients.
Africa has reported more than 750,000 cases of COVID-19. At least 15,000 people have died.
South Africa is now among the worst-hit countries in the world. With 394,948 cases and 5,940 deaths, South Africa accounts for more than half of the continent’s diagnosed cases and ranks fifth behind the U.S., Brazil, India, and Russia.
7:16 a.m.: Flight attendant linked to Hawaiian Airlines COVID-19 cluster dies
A Hawaiian Airlines employee that recently contracted COVID-19 died this week, the company announced.
“I am very sad to report that one of our senior Los Angeles-based Flight Attendants, Jeff Kurtzman, passed away last night,” Hawaiian Airlines President & CEO Peter Ingram said in a statement. “He had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in California earlier this month.”
A few weeks ago, the airline reported that a number of employees tested positive for the virus after a training session.
“We continue to follow up with members of our ‘ohana who are recovering from the coronavirus,” Ingram’s statement said. “We are reminded every day that this virus is serious and highly transmissible. We have strengthened the mandates and protocols governing how we interact with each other at our facilities, and I urge us all to continue to practice the utmost vigilance.”
Kurtzman was a senior Los Angeles-based flight attendant, and worked for Hawaiian Airlines since 1986.
4:49 a.m.: Trump says testing is ‘overrated’
In a week where President Donald Trump has been more vocal about wearing masks and saying the coronavirus will “get worse before it gets better,” he also continued to say Wednesday that coronavirus testing is “overrated,” but “he’s willing to keep doing it.”
Trump, in an interview with Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel that aired Wednesday night, implied that the increased testing makes the U.S. “look bad” and said, “I don’t mind looking bad if it’s a good thing.”
This comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country nears 4 million.
“To me, every time you test a case it gets reported in the news, we found more cases. If instead of 50 we did 25, we have half the number of cases. So I personally think it’s overrated, but I am totally willing to keep doing it,” Trump said during the interview.
In the U.S., deaths in the last week were up 12.3% over the previous week, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News.
The memo also highlighted how some of the hardest-hit states, like Arizona, are facing tough choices to decide who gets care as hospitals run short on health care equipment and resources.
The mixed messaging this week continues as the president urged Americans to wear masks only to show up hours later at his Washington hotel at a fundraiser speaking to supporters without one.
During his interview with Siegel he said wearing masks “probably helps.”
“I don’t think it’s something that you have to do or should do,” he told FOX News. “But everyone around me has tested, so I’m not the perfect person to talk about it. But I believe that you should wear it, even if there’s a 1% chance it helps.”
What to know about coronavirus:
ABC News’ Matt Fuhrman, Brian Hartman, Tom Llamas, Josh Margolin, Jordyn Phelps, Eric Strauss, Christine Theodorou, Matthew Vann and Scott Withers contributed to this report.