Dow plunges nearly 7 percent on concerns of COVID-19 resurgence

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Beaches reopen with restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease in MIami Beach
A worker sanitizes loungers as beaches are reopened with restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Miami Beach, Florida on June 10, 2020.Marco Bello / Reuters

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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.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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Nashville delays next reopening phase, citing uptick in new coronavirus cases

Nashville is delaying its next reopening phase as the city saw a slight increase in new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, Mayor John Cooper said during a media briefing Thursday.

“As of today, the majority of our public health metrics are satisfactory. But our 14-day new case average remains slightly elevated, prompting us to stay in Phase Two of our Roadmap for Reopening Nashville," Cooper said.

Tennessee's capital city will focus on offering more testing, contact tracing and education efforts, specifically in southeast Nashville, where "nearly 50 percent" of all new cases were detected in the past month, said Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of the Metro Coronavirus Task Force.

More than 6,600 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nashville and Davidson County, including 56 new cases in the past 24 hours.

More than 2,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas, but a decrease from record total

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas decreased Thursday after setting a record on three consecutive days.

On Thursday morning, 2,008 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in the state, down from 2,153 on Wednesday.

Even with the decline, Thursday’s hospitalizations represents a 32 percent increase from May 25, when 1,511 were hospitalized with the coronavirus.

Texas is one of at least nine states facing a recent spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Coronavirus means an uncertain future for businesses and cities that depend on yearly black events

For two decades, South Florida entrepreneur Keith Jones has made a living entertaining vacationers on land and sea, through his Grown & Sexy cruises and concerts in the sun.

These days, the only land Jones sees is the patch outside his home or the asphalt between home and Home Depot. Like backers of some of the most popular events on this year’s social calendar, Jones has seen his efforts to host hundreds thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant mandates for lockdowns and social distancing.

“Everything's just thrown up in the air,” said Jones, known as “Super Lover KJ” to his former Florida radio fans. “It's just a crazy period right now. It's totally devastated my business. I mean, I'm making no money. I mean, not a dime.”

A check of some of the most popular draws with African Americans found nearly every organizer scrambling to regroup.

Read the full story here.

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.

Read the full story here.

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."

Read the full story here.

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.

Read more. 

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

Chateau Montrose wine estate near Bordeaux shows barrels of wine last week during a tasting according to sanitary rules, as France eases coronavirus lockdown measures.Georges Gobet / AFP - Getty Images

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.