U.S. stocks dropped sharply on Thursday as investors weighed sobering economic forecasts and new data, along with indications that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from subsiding.
Several sectors including hospitality and leisure suffered steep declines. As more than 20 states report a climb in coronavirus cases, there are new worries that consumers will be reluctant to return to restaurants and take trips. Those worries were fueled in part by data showing an additional 1.5 million people filing for unemployment for the first time last week hursday by the Department of Labor.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told TODAY that he expects the country to cross 200,000 deaths in September. "This pandemic is going to be with us until next spring or summer when we have a vaccine. This is not faded," he said.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide; confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. have already reopened.
- The coronavirus has destroyed the job market in every state. See the per-state jobless numbers and how they’ve changed.
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New unemployment claims rise by 1.5 million as stocks drop sharply on new coronavirus case concerns
More than 1.5 million people filed for unemployment for the first time last week, according to data released Thursday by the Department of Labor.
The jobless claims add to a devastating run of economic data that has shown the number of Americans continuing to apply for unemployment benefits jump to 20 million in the last four months, as coronavirus shutdowns have pushed businesses to furlough or lay off workers.
But the pace of jobless claims continues to decline, with Thursday's data adding to the trend. The claims came slightly below economists' expectations of 1.6 million first-time jobless claims and is a third of the peak of claims from early April.
Coronavirus deaths could reach 200,000 by early fall, Harvard doctor warns
With more states easing restrictions after the coronavirus lockdown, the U.S. recently surpassed 2 million cases of COVID-19, prompting public health experts to worry about a second wave of the virus.
Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told TODAY on Thursday that he fears the worst is far from over -- especially when considering the rise in hospitalizations in at least nine states.
"That's coming from just more people getting sick and needing hospital care," he said. "We've been so behind in our testing approach for months that we were missing most of the cases out there ... As testing's gotten better, we've identified more cases. Testing is a part of the story but certainly doesn't explain the whole thing."
Because the current total of U.S. coronavirus deaths is around 113,000, that means "sometime in September, we're going to cross 200,000, and we still won't be done," Jha said. "This pandemic is going to be with us until next spring or summer when we have a vaccine. This is not faded."
After COVID-19 destroyed her lungs, young Chicago woman receives double transplant
Surgeons in Chicago have given a new set of lungs to a young woman with severe lung damage from the coronavirus.
Only a few other COVID-19 survivors, in China and Europe, have received lung transplants.
Pentagon's top biomedical lab picks three COVID-19 vaccine candidates for more research
The Defense Department's largest biomedical lab, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Maryland, has selected a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate for additional research as well as two backup vaccine candidates.
The leading candidate is called SpFN, for Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle, and will enter first-in-human testing later this year.
The candidates were narrowed down from more than two dozen prototypes in order to determine the candidates that elicited the most promising antibody response in preclinical studies.
“As soon as the virus sequence was published in January 2020, WRAIR began conceptualizing a vaccine strategy,” said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch (EIDB) of WRAIR. “We have leveraged the Institute’s expertise and infrastructure to be able to compress what would, under normal circumstances, be two years of discovery and design work into several months.”
Moderna to start final testing stage of coronavirus vaccine in July
Moderna on Thursday confirmed it plans to start a trial of 30,000 volunteers of its much-anticipated coronavirus vaccine in July as the company enters the final stage of testing.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech said the primary goal of the study would be to prevent symptomatic COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The key secondary goal would be prevention of severe disease, as defined by keeping people out of the hospital.
Moderna said it has selected the 100-microgram dose of the vaccine for the late-stage study. At that dose level, the company is on track to deliver about 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, starting in 2021 from the company’s internal U.S. manufacturing site and strategic collaboration with Swiss drugmaker Lonza.
French winemakers to turn unsold wine into hand sanitizer
French winegrowers will distill millions of gallons of unsold wine to make hand sanitizer after the government agreed to fund the effort, the country’s farming agency said.
The surplus of wine is due to a drop in consumption during the coronavirus lockdown, as well as a lack of exports to the U.S. in part because of wine tariffs.
"Since the start of [lockdown], it is estimated that sales of alcohol have decreased by 40 to 50 percent," the National Confederation of Wine and Brandy Producers said last week. "The situation that will continue to persist with the continued closure of the bars and restaurants.”
French winegrowers have lobbied the French government and European Commission since April for financial assistance to de-stock and find a use for wine that would not be consumed. Just over 30 approved distillers in France will be able to collect wine and transform it into hand sanitizing gel.
The exceptional measure, authorized by Brussels and financed by European public funds, extends until October 15. Winegrowers have until June 19 to register.
Moscow releases revised, and much higher, COVID-19 death toll for May
More than 5,000 Moscow residents died from the coronavirus in May, despite official nation-wide statistics showing just over 6,000 have died since the start of the outbreak in mid-March, according to new information released by Moscow officials.
The figures, based on an analysis of excess fatalities, came out just days after Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin unexpectedly ended a strict city-wide lockdown early, a move that some opposition figures have suggested was motivated by political pressure from President Vladimir Putin.
Russia is set to vote on a series on constitutional amendments on July 1 that would see presidential term limits reset, potentially allowing Putin to remain in office until 2036. Moscow's lockdown, as it stood, could have complicated voting efforts.
Previously, Moscow's official tally for May, based on health department figures, was just over 2,700 coronavirus deaths. The revised figures show that more than 5,700 more residents died in May 2020 than during the same time period in the three previous years, and over 90 percent, equal to 5,260 people, had COVID-19, according to the statement.
The statement said the revision brings the city's numbers in line with international standards. The updated numbers have created a sharp discrepancy between Moscow's numbers and official Russian government numbers. On Thursday, the Moscow Health Department explained the new figures have not yet been sent to federal authorities.
COVID-19 deaths in Latin America top 70,000 as Sao Paulo eases lockdown
Latin America's coronavirus crisis reached a grim new milestone on Wednesday with total deaths exceeding 70,000, according to a Reuters count.
Brazil, with the largest economy in the region, remains Latin America's most affected country as total fatalities are just shy of 40,000, the world's third highest death toll after the United States and Britain. The country's most populous state, Sao Paulo, reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for the second day running on Wednesday, even as its homonymous metropolis allowed shops to resume business and prepared to reopen its malls.
Governments across the globe acknowledge that the real number of infected people is significantly higher than the official counts.
Meanwhile, Mexico hit a daily record for confirmed infections, bringing its overall official count to 129,184 infections and 15,357 deaths. The World Health Organization has determined that Latin America is the new hotspot for the pandemic and the outbreak has also spread rapidly in Peru, Chile and Columbia.
South Korea's successful tracing campaign tested as coronavirus spreads amid eased social distancing
South Korea reported 45 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the vast majority of which were recorded in metropolitan areas like the capital, Seoul.
The country has reported between 30 and 50 new cases per day since easing lockdown measures in late May, after a highly-praised trace and test campaign started at the beginning of the outbreak. The recent emergence of cases come from religious meetings, home-visit sales, nightclub-goers and ping-pong game rooms — particularly among people older than 60.
The government said on Thursday that they will respond to any quarantine violations with strict measures, although they expressed confidence in the number of available hospital beds. However, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Jung Eun-kyeong said on Thursday that health workers are struggling to track transmissions that are spreading quickly due to less social distancing, according to the Associated Press.
Australia's most popular sport to restart, but the stadium will be empty
Australia’s most popular sport, Australian football, will resume play in an empty stadium on Thursday after the season was put on hold in mid-March amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The season will restart with a game between two of the league's most popular teams facing off in Melbourne.
Fans however, will be permitted at other games held in specific states where COVID-19 has been eradicated. A crowd of 2,000 is expected to attend a game in Adelaide, on Saturday night.