By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 544,000 people worldwide.Over 11.8 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 the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 2.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 131,480 deaths.
Here is how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:
9:05 a.m.: Coronavirus crisis expanding in South and SouthwestThe coronavirus crisis is expanding in the South and the Southeast, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News. Arizona reported 354 new cases per 100,000 population in the past week, compared to a national average of 100 per 100,000. In California, the highest number of new cases in last three weeks were in Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties, representing 51.8% of new cases in the state. Southern California and the Central Valley show high community transmission and the Bay Area is also seeing rising cases. Florida is reporting 261 new cases per 100,000 population in the past week. The highest number of new cases in last three weeks were in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Broward Counties. But those counties represented only 37.9% of new cases in the state; increases are occurring broadly across multiple counties, including Orange. In South Carolina, positivity rates are increasing in coastal counties and urban areas. The highest number of new cases over the last three weeks were in Charleston, Horry and Greenville Counties, representing 41.1% of new cases in the state. In Texas, Dallas County Health and Human Services reports that 80% of those in the hospital are essential workers, including health workers, first responders and food service workers.
7:21 a.m.: Russia surpasses 700,000 cases of COVID-19Russia confirmed 6,562 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 700,792.Over the past 24 hours, 173 people have died in the country bringing the total toll to 10,667.A total of 8,631 people recovered over the last 24 hours as well which brings the overall number of recoveries to 472,511.Russia has the fourth highest number of confirmed cases by country in the world behind only the United States, Brazil and India, respectively. Russia has more than double the amount of cases to Peru which currently sits as the fifth worst-affected country in the world.
6:33 a.m.: Orlando Magic player tests positive for coronavirus, team official saysOn the same day the Orlando Magic arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to prepare for the upcoming NBA season restart, officials said one of their players will be temporally benched by the coronavirus.Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman made the announcement during a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday. The unidentified player had previously tested positive during the NBA’s last round of testing that began on June 23.”That player is following protocol and and we’re hoping that he can join us shortly,” Weltman said.The Magic did not say which player had a confirmed COVID-19 case.The league told players that it will not suspend play in the event of several positive cases, but would look into stoppage if an outbreak did occur.
5:04 a.m.: Over a dozen contract coronavirus after high school graduationMore than a dozen people who attended a high school graduation in North Carolina have reportedly contracted the novel coronavirus.Officials have identified at least 16 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after attending Marvin Ridge High School’s graduation ceremony on June 24 in Waxhaw, North Carolina, according to a report by Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV. While some of those people may have been together at other events, officials said, the only common link they all share is the graduation.Officials said anyone who attended the ceremony “needs to take additional precautions when interacting with individuals from our vulnerable population,” and to get tested if they or someone in their home develops symptoms.Board members of the Union County Public Schools had voted in late May to hold in-person graduation ceremonies while practicing social distancing, despite an order from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper that prohibits them. The Union County Sheriff’s Office said they wouldn’t interfere with the plans to carry out traditional graduations.”As Union County Public Schools held graduations, the district provided clear health and safety guidance for graduates and their guests,” Union County Public Schools told WSOC in a statement Tuesday. “Ceremonies included social distancing protocols, and staff encouraged all attendees to wear face coverings. In addition, hand sanitizer or hand washing stations were available at each stadium.”
3:30 a.m.: US sets another record with over 60,000 new cases in a dayMore than 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.It’s the first time the United States has reached or crossed the 60,000 threshold of newly diagnosed cases in a 24-hour reporting period.Tuesday’s caseload shattered the country’s previous record set on July 2, when more than 54,000 new cases were identified.The national total currently stands at 2,996,098 diagnosed cases with at least 131,480 deaths, 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 cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 50,000 for the first time last week.Many states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some — including Arizona, California and Florida — reporting daily records. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.