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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- We've created this live blog to bring you the latest coronavirus news happening right now. Here's what's happening.
12 a.m. Asian shares are mostly higher, with Tokyo stocks gaining on expectations that a pandemic state of emergency will be lifted for all of Japan. But shares fell in Hong Kong on Monday after police used tear gas to quell weekend protests over a proposed national security bill for the former British colony. U.S. markets will be closed for Memorial Day. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.5% in morning trading to 20,682.78. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6% to 1,981.92. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.4% to 5,572.30. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.2% to 22,659.62. The Shanghai Composite was little changed, edging 0.1% higher to 2,815.94. The protests in Hong Kong, in response to legislation under discussion by China's National People's Congress, which is now meeting in Beijing, were the largest in months despite bans on large gathering meant to prevent spreading the coronavirus.
7 p.m. There are now 42,902 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 1,827 Georgians have died. 7,450 people are hospitalized, and 481,889 people have been tested.
1 p.m. There are now 42,838 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 1,824 Georgians have died. 7,439 people are hospitalized, and 481,954 people have been tested.
7 p.m. There are now 41,482 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 1,808 Georgians have died. 7,376 people are hospitalized, and 427,249 people have been tested.
11 a.m. Sales of existing homes plunged 17.8% in April with the real estate market still in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that last month's decline pushed sales down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.33 million units, the slowest pace since September 2011. The sales drop was the largest one-month decline since a 22.5% fall in July 2010. That tail-off was preceded by the end a congressionally approved tax credit intended pull the housing market out of the 2006 collapse of the housing market. The median price for a home sold in April was $286,800, which was an increase of 7.4% from a year ago. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the Realtors group, attributed the big jump in the median price to a lack of enough homes for sale, especially for first-time buyers. Sales were down in all parts of the country with the West seeing a 25% drop. Sales in the Northeast fell 16.9%. Sales were down 17.9% in the South and down 12% in the Midwest.
10 a.m. Stocks struggled to hold on to tiny gains in early trading on Wall Street Thursday after shaking off an early loss. Investors found little to like in the latest buildup of tensions between the U.S. and China and more dismal news about fallout related to the coronavirus pandemic. The White House issued a report attacking Beijing’s economic and military policies and human rights violations. Meanwhile the number of Americans thrown out of work since the virus struck climbed to nearly 39 million. Macy’s fell after saying it could lose more than a $1 billion during its first fiscal quarter.
9 a.m. The number of Americans thrown out of work since the coronavirus crisis struck two months ago has climbed to nearly 39 million, the government said Thursday. More than 2.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week in the latest wave of layoffs from the outbreak that has triggered nationwide business shutdowns and brought the economy to its knees, the Labor Department reported. That brings the running total to a staggering 38.6 million. An additional 2.2 million sought aid under a new federal program for self-employed, contractor and gig workers, who are now eligible for unemployment benefits for the first time. Those figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, so they are not included in the overall number of applications. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the unemployment rate could peak in May or June at 20% to 25% — a level unseen since the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s. As of April, unemployment stood at 14.7%, a figure also unmatched since the era when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself.
8:30 a.m. The U.S. Labor Department says nearly two and a half million more people sought jobless claims last week as states allow some businesses to reopen and fewer companies slash jobs. 2,438,000 filed for unemployment benefits, after 36 million sought aid in the previous eight weeks as the coronavirus forced employers to close and sent the economy into a deep recession. The continuing job cuts reflect an economy that is gripped by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the economy is shrinking at a 38% annual rate in the April-June quarter. That would be, by far, the worst quarterly contraction on record. Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Labor released its April jobless report which shows an all-time high rate of unemployment in the state.The latest employment numbers show that the March-to April increase for the unemployment rate was the largest month-to-month spike on record, labor officials said in a news release. Georgia’s newest unemployment rate is 11.9%, an all time high, according to the labor department. A year ago, the unemployment rate in Georgia was 3.6%.
7 a.m. Drug maker AstraZeneca secured its first agreements Thursday for 400 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, bolstered by an investment from the U.S. vaccine agency. The Anglo-Swedish company reported it had received more than $1 billion from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine, starting this fall. The investment will accelerate the development and production of the vaccine, AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said. It had already joined forces with the British government. Pharmaceutical companies including also Moderna and Sanofi are racing to develop and produce a vaccine against the new coronavirus as experts say it will be crucial to allowing countries to ease their lockdowns and restrictions on public life. In a statement as markets opened, AstraZeneca said it has now secured manufacturing capacity for 1 billion doses and aims to secure further agreements to expand capacity further over the next months “to ensure the delivery of a globally accessible vaccine.''
6 a.m. As Americans confront a crisis unlike any in modern times, the world’s greatest deliberative body is doing almost anything but deliberate the coronavirus. It's as though the challenge has split the U.S. Senate into two. On one side is a Senate clamoring for a quick response to the virus outbreak at its door. On the other is the wait-and-see Senate hitting pause on swift action and carrying on with non-pandemic business. “Every aspect of American society has been changed by this crisis — except, perhaps, the Republican Senate,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in the chamber Wednesday. The split screen at the Capitol provides a study in contrasts and priorities, one that reflects the partisan differences between Republicans and Democrats, and is defining both ahead of the 2020 election. As the House works remotely, the lights-on Senate has the legislative stage to itself. But despite a virus death toll nearing 100,000 and more than 30 million unemployed, the slow-moving Senate is proving even a pandemic won't quicken its pace. Senators are prepared to leave town for a weeklong Memorial Day break without having acted on any new relief.
5 a.m. How should I clean and store my face mask? Cloth face masks worn during the coronavirus pandemic should be washed regularly, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health experts recommend wearing a mask made from cotton fabric, such as T-shirts, or scarves and bandannas, when you are outside and unable to maintain social distancing from others. The covering should be washed daily after use, says Penni Watts, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Nursing. It is best to clean your mask in a washing machine or with soap and hot water. The mask should be dried completely. Dry it in a hot dryer, if possible. Watts advises storing the clean, dry mask in a new paper bag to keep it safe from germs. The CDC has urged people to use washable cloth coverings to ensure there are enough surgical and N95 masks for medical workers.
4 a.m. Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday after Wall Street rose despite Chinese trade tensions with Washington and Australia. Investors were looking ahead to Friday’s meeting of China’s legislature for details of possible new steps by Beijing to stimulate its virus-battered economy. Benchmarks in Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul swung between gains and losses. Australia was little-changed while India opened higher. Investors are optimistic about the global outlook despite mounting infection numbers in the United States, Brazil and other countries. But China's conflicts with Washington and Australia over the coronavirus, trade and Beijing's technology ambitions are adding to uncertainty. China has blocked beef imports from four Australian suppliers in possible retaliation for Australia’s support for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has stepped up a feud over Beijing’s industrial ambitions by tightening controls on use of U.S. technology by tech giant Huawei.
11 a.m. The rate of fatal automobile crashes in the U.S. jumped dramatically in March, even though the number of miles driven plummeted due to coronavirus stay-home orders.The National Safety Council said Wednesday that based on preliminary figures from states, the number of fatal crashes per 100 million miles driven rose an “alarming” 14% compared with March of 2019. The group pointed to anecdotal reports from states of an increase in reckless driving and speeding due to nearly traffic-free highways during shutdowns that were in effect in March, the latest month for which statistics are available. “Per mile traveled, our roads are less safe than they were prior to COVID-19,” said Ken Kolosh, the safety council's manager of statistics. The increase came even though stay-home orders didn't start in much of the nation until the middle of March, Kolosh said. Yet the number of fatalities per 100 million miles driven was 1.22 in March compared with 1.07 a year earlier.
10:45 a.m. The Georgia Department of Public Health has released the latest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. There are now 38,889 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The death toll continues to rise at 1,684. Fulton County continues to lead with the largest number of cases with 3,794 and the largest number of deaths at 174. Dougherty County had slowed in deaths, but is now the second county with the most deaths at 139 people. Cobb County follows behind with 135 deaths. Dekalb County has the second largest number of cases with 2,932 and 87 deaths. Gwinnett County has 2,768 cases and 114 deaths.
10 a.m. Stocks are opening broadly higher on Wall Street as investors regain their confidence following a sudden drop a day earlier. Big-name investor favorites like Facebook, Apple and Amazon helped pull the market higher in early trading Wednesday. The S&P 500 was up 1.4% in the first few minutes of trading, more than it lost a day earlier. Target reported that its online sales more than doubled in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic put millions in lockdown. Markets in Europe and Asia also rose. The price of crude oil was up about 3% and bond yields held steady.
9 a.m. Oprah Winfrey is giving grants to the cities she’s called home through her $12 million coronavirus relief fund. She announced Wednesday that her Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation will donate money to organizations dedicated to helping underserved communities in Chicago; Baltimore; Nashville, Tennessee; Milwaukee; and Kosciusko, Mississippi, where she was born. “The reason I’m talking about it is because there is going to be a need for people of means to step up,” Winfrey said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I mean, this thing is not going away. Even when the virus is gone, the devastation left by people not being able to work for months who were holding on paycheck to paycheck, who have used up their savings — people are going to be in need. So my thing is, look in your own neighborhood, in your own backyard to see how you can serve and where your service is most essential. That is the real essential work, I think, for people of means.” After speaking with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other leaders, Winfrey decided to give $5 million to Live Healthy Chicago, which provides immediate support to seniors and high-risk residents affected by the coronavirus.
8 a.m. U.S. births continued to fall last year, leading to the fewest number of newborns in 35 years. The decline is the latest sign of a prolonged national “baby bust” that's been going on for more than a decade. And some experts believe the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy will suppress the numbers further. "This unpredictable environment, and anxiety about the future, is going to make women think twice about having children,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University. The latest numbers were released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, which is considered preliminary, is based on a review of more than 99% of birth certificates issued last year. The CDC found the number of births fell about 1% from 2018, to about 3.7 million. Birth rates continued to fall for teen moms and for women in their 20s.
7 a.m. Indonesia has recorded its highest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases as the government is preparing a “new normal” by July. Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto announced Wednesday that confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections spiked by 693, taking the total number of infections nationwide over 19,000, including more than 1,200 deaths and about 4,500 recoveries. The previous highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases was recorded a week ago with 689 new cases. President Joko Widodo has said the country must be ready for a “new normal” by July. However, Indonesians are worrying over little commitment from the government and citizens to fight the virus as the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise across many provinces outside the capital, Jakarta. So far, only four out of 34 provinces and dozens of cities have applied the restrictions — all with a low-level of public compliance and a low testing rate, at 154,000 for a population of about 270 million, compared to other countries.
6 a.m. Philippine police raided a clandestine hospital and drugstore that were secretly treating Chinese citizens suspected of being infected with the coronavirus, police officials said Wednesday. Two people were arrested and one patient was found during Tuesday's raid at the residential villa that had been illegally turned into a seven-bed hospital and drugstore, police Brig. Gen. Rhoderick Armamento said. More than 200 suspected coronavirus rapid test kits and syringes were recovered from trash cans at the villa. The hospital and drugstore are in a large room by a swimming pool at the back of the compound, according to Armamento and a police video. The male Chinese patient was moved to a Philippine hospital. Those arrested were the Chinese administrator of the hospital, which may have been operating secretly for about three months, and a compatriot who manned the drugstore, he said.
5 a.m. A Gwinnett County woman is facing a series of federal fraud charges related to COVID-19 testing. Ashley Parris, 32, of Lawrenceville, was arrested on May 15 for conspiring to defraud Medicare by allegedly submitting false and fraudulent claims for cancer genetic testing, and allegedly conspiring to submit fraudulent claims related to COVID-19 tests, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced in a press release. The press release stated that starting in 2018 and continuing to present, Parris reportedly solicited and received illegal kickback payments from the owners and operators of a diagnostic testing laboratory in exchange for Parris referring Medicare beneficiaries to the laboratory. The U.S. Attorney’s office did not name the laboratory. The laboratory then tested the people Parris referred, however, the patients were not eligible for testing, the release stated. After completing the tests, the laboratory then billed Medicare, and after receiving payments for the illegal tests, the laboratory allegedly gave Parris a kickback.
4 a.m. Asian shares were mixed Wednesday as market players waffled between hopes for recovery as economies gradually reopen and worries over the havoc wreaked by the pandemic. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.8% to finish at 20,595.15 on expectations that a state of emergency still in effect for Tokyo and seven other cities and prefectures may soon end. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5% to 1,989.57. and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2% to 5,573.00. But Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped nearly 0.1% to 24,366.81. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.7% to 2,878.36. Japan's state of emergency, which asked people to stay home but was not a lockdown, was recently lifted in the rest of the nation, with social distancing restrictions. Yoshimasa Maruyama, chief economist at SMBC Nikko Securities, said the lifting of the emergency could come as soon as later this month. But the hardest hit sectors, such as tourism and restaurants, are unlikely to recover for some time, he said.
7 p.m. There are now 38,855 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The death toll continues to rise at 1,675.
Fulton County continues to lead with the largest number of cases with 3,795 and the largest number of deaths at 174.
Dougherty County had slowed in deaths, but is now the second county with the most deaths at 139 people. Cobb County follows behind with 135 deaths. Dekalb County has the second largest number of cases with 2,918 and 87 deaths. Gwinnett County has 2,771 cases and 114 deaths.
11 a.m. JCPenney plans to close nearly 200 stores this year and an additional 50 stores next year as it seeks to use bankruptcy to turn around its business. The iconic retailer has yet to identify which of its 846 stores will be permanently closed. And it did not say how many of its 85,000 employees would lose their jobs as a result of the store closings. It filed for bankruptcy protection Friday evening, and disclosed its store closing plans in filings over the weekend. In February, the company announced plans to close six of its stores in April, but before those closings were completed, the company was forced to close all of its stores due to the Covid-19 outbreak. While JCPenney started reopening some of the stores last week -- before its Friday evening bankruptcy filing -- more than 95% of its stores are still closed to shoppers due to health concerns. It does plan to announce about 115 more store openings on Wednesday, according to company spokesperson Brooke Buchanan.
10 a.m. Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street Tuesday, a day after the market had its biggest jump in more than five weeks. Banks and health care companies were posting the biggest losses in the early going, while technology companies kept up their winning streak. Earnings reports from major retailers showed how differently those companies are faring during the coronavirus pandemic. Walmart rose after reporting a surge in sales as people stocked up on crucial supplies as they sheltered in place. But Kohl’s, whose stores are closed, swung to a $541 million loss as its revenue fell more than 40%.
9 a.m. Gov. Brian Kemp is announcing a major improvement in Georgia's COVID-19 testing capabilities. Kemp's office announced Monday that Georgia now ranks twenty-first out of fifty-four states and territories on the current percentage of total population tested, up from forty-sixth one month ago. Among states with more than five million residents, Georgia ranks eighth out of twenty-three states. Georgia has tested 3.3% of its total population for COVID-19 with 364,289 tests completed. On Friday, May 15, the state announced that it surpassed 300,000 tests, increasing the number of reported tests by more than 64,000 over the weekend. Any Georgian can now be tested for COVID-19. As the state continues to ramp up testing, the number of positive cases may rise. However, the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests is now at 10.5%, down from 16% two weeks ago.
8 a.m. U.S. home building plunged again in April, taken down by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that ground breakings plummeted 30.2% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000. Construction of single-family homes dropped 25.4% to an annual rate of 650,000. The lockdowns and travel restrictions designed to contain the pandemic have brought economic life to a near standstill. The unemployment rate is 14.7%, highest since the Great Depression. The construction slump is likely to continue. Building permits for new housing dropped 20.8% to an annual rate of 1.07 million.
7 a.m. Russia’s prime minister has fully resumed his duties after recovering from the coronavirus. Mikhail Mishustin, 54, announced that he had been infected in a televised call with President Vladimir Putin on April 30. On Tuesday, Mishustin’s office said that he has checked out of the hospital and returned to his duties in the Cabinet headquarters. He is set to take part in a video conference with President Vladimir Putin later in the day. Several Cabinet ministers and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov also have been infected. Peskov said that he had double pneumonia caused by the virus. He noted that he hadn’t met with Putin in person for more than a month. Putin has limited public appearances and held most of his meetings online during the virus pandemic.
6 a.m. President Donald Trump said he is taking a malaria drug to protect against the coronavirus, despite warnings from his own government that it should only be administered for COVID-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects. Trump told reporters Monday he has been taking the drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc supplement daily “for about a week and a half now.” Trump has spent weeks pushing hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure or prophylaxis for COVID-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals. The drug has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not been shown to combat the new coronavirus. Later, in a move that could have far-reaching medical impact during the pandemic, Trump tweeted a letter he had sent to the World Health Organization threatening to permanently drop U.S. funding unless WHO commits to “substantive improvements" over the next 30 days. The U.S. provides $450 million a year to the organization.
5 a.m. The Atlanta Archbishop announced Monday a schedule and guidelines for resuming in-parish worship services. Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer said the plan would slowly allow parishioners inside churches for services and sacraments while adhering to social distancing guidelines, news outlets reported. In-parish daily Masses were set to start May 25 and weekend Masses would begin on May 30 and 31. The decision to reopen could be based on the individual pastors' discretion and parishes could use a reservation system or first-come, first-served process for services. Church members are still allowed to miss in-person Sunday Mass through June 28, which allows churches to spread out attendance over several days.
4 a.m. Asian shares rose Tuesday on optimism about a potential vaccine for the coronavirus after hopes for a U.S. economic recovery in the second half of the year sent Wall Street into a rebound. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.5% to finish at 20,433.45. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.8% to 5,559.50. South Korea's Kospi was up 2.2% to 1,980.07. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 2.1% to 24,442.42, while the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.7% to 2,895.46. India's Sensex added 1.8% to 30,558.23 and markets also rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia. “The mood is assertively risk-on with sentiment having been tipped over by fresh hopes sparked for a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist for IG.
11 p.m. “Like every other municipality, the City of Atlanta incurred unanticipated expenses and loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms after approving $88,434,611.30 be added to the City's fiscal budget.
Her latest Executive Order allows the funds, awarded through the CARES Act, to address the community's needs as the state continues to see a stead rise in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
10 p.m. As Walt Disney World prepares to allow some third-party shops and restaurants to open at its entertainment complex later this week, it's posting a warning.
While enhanced safety measures are being taken at Disney Springs, “an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present," the company said Monday on a website for the entertainment complex.
“COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable," the warning said. “By visiting Disney Springs you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19."
9 p.m. The Treasury Department said Monday that it will start issuing some stimulus payments by sending a debit card to people in the mail.
Until now, payments had been either directly deposited in an individual's bank account or sent as a paper check.
About 4 million payments will be sent on a debit card. It could mean that those people receive their money faster than if they had to wait for a check.
8 p.m. Volunteers are not in short supply for a possible trial run of a future coronavirus vaccine – as of May 18, more than 23,000 people have signed up across 102 countries to become a volunteer. They would literally put their lives on the line to potentially save months in the creation of the vaccine.
In this COVID-19 “Human Challenge” vaccine trial, a group of volunteers would first be injected with a potential vaccine, and a second control group would be injected with a placebo.
7 p.m. There are now 38,283 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The death toll continues to rise at 1,649.
Fulton County continues to lead with the largest number of cases with 3,751 and the largest number of deaths at 171.
Dougherty County had slowed in deaths, but is now the second county with the most deaths at 134 people. Cobb County follows behind with 133 deaths. Dekalb County has the second largest number of cases with 2,856 and 86 deaths. Gwinnett County has 2,680 cases and 105 deaths.
5 p.m. President Donald Trump said Monday that he is taking a malaria drug to lessen symptoms should he get the new coronavirus, even though the drug is unproven for fighting COVID-19.
Trump told reporters he has been taking the drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc supplement daily “for about a week and a half now.” Trump spent weeks pushing the drug as a potential cure for COVID-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration's top medical professionals. The drug has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not been shown to combat the new coronavirus.
1 p.m. There are now 37,642 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The death toll from disease has now reached 1,606 deaths as a result of the rapidly spreading virus.
Overall, Fulton County has the largest concentration with 3,761 reported cases with DeKalb County second in the state with 2,799. Gwinnett County has the third-most cases with 2,594.
7:03 p.m. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed troubled department store chain J.C. Penney into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is the fourth major retailer to meet that fate.
As part of its reorganization, the 118-year-old company said late Friday it will be closing some of its stores and will disclose details and timing in the coming weeks.
It operates 850 stores and it has nearly 90,000 workers. It said that it received $900 million in financing to help it operate during the restructuring.
Penney joins luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus, J.Crew and Stage Stores in filing for bankruptcy reorganization. Plenty of other retailers are expected to follow.
7 p.m. There are now 37,772 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The death toll from disease has now reached 1,588 deaths as a result of the rapidly spreading virus.
Overall, Fulton County has the largest concentration with 3,703 reported cases with DeKalb County second in the state with 2,751. Gwinnett County has the third-most cases with 2,597.
3 p.m. The coronavirus spreading across the globe could become a constant presence, a leading World Health Organization official has said.
During a media briefing in Geneva, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, warned Wednesday that the disease may join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year.
"This virus just may become another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away. HIV hasn't gone away," Ryan said. "I'm not comparing the two diseases but I think it is important that we're realistic. I don't think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear."
11:30 p.m. A $12 million grant awarded to the Technical College System of Georgia's Office of Workforce Development will help address workforce-related impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This federal funding will expand our capacity to serve Georgia workers who have experienced hardship due to COVID-19 closures," said Governor Brian Kemp. "Through employment assistance and training services, TCSG's Office of Workforce Development will help eligible individuals get back into the workforce as quickly as possible."
Dislocated Worker Grants are discretionary grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor. The grants provide resources to states in response to large, unexpected layoff events that cause significant job losses - all with the purpose of re-employing laid-off workers and enhancing their employability and earnings.
Eligible individuals can click here to complete their initial application to receive job training and upskilling services provided by WorkSource GA.
10 p.m. An executive for a US mask producer bemoaned, in heated and emotional testimony Thursday to Congress, how his warnings of insufficient domestic medical mask production had been ignored by the federal government for years until the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mike Bowen, the vice president of the Texas-based medical supply company Prestige Ameritech, said the US dependence on foreign masks has been a national security issue for years.
Bowen described conversations over the past 13 years in which he had offered manufacturing deals to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that included "mak(ing) sure that the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration always has masks," adding that "I couldn't get anybody interested in it."
7 p.m. There are now 35,977 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The death toll from disease has now reached 1,544 deaths as a result of the rapidly spreading virus.
Overall, Fulton County has the largest concentration with 3,625 reported cases with DeKalb County second in the state with 2,664. Gwinnett County has the third-most cases with 2,552.
4 p.m. NASCAR's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is heading to the Atlanta Motor Speedway after being given the green light from Governor Brian Kemp.
As NASCAR has revised its 2020 schedule, Governor Kemp and the State of Georgia have worked with the sanctioning body and AMS to reschedule the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, which was originally scheduled to run on March 15, 2020. Now, with a plan to go racing reviewed and approved by Governor Kemp, live sports will return to Georgia when the green flag drops at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 7, at 3:00 p.m.
“I want to thank our partners with NASCAR and Atlanta Motor Speedway for adapting to protect public health throughout our fight with COVID-19,” said Governor Kemp. “As we continue the measured process of reopening our state, I am confident in their plan to return to racing safely, and I’m excited to join with patrons across the country in celebrating the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 come June.”
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the race will take place without spectators in attendance.
Fans who had tickets to the March 13-15 NASCAR weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway can find information on the Speedway’s current ticket policy at www.AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com.
11 a.m. Publix has announced that stores will now be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. with pharmacies returning to normal operating hours. The company website says "with our newly expanded hours, we will suspend reserved shopping hours. We do understand some customers prefer to shop when the stores are less crowded. We encourage you to shop during the first hour of the day, when we can better accommodate that need." Publix also says reserved hours for those over the age of 65, first responders and health care workers are being discontinued but officials encourage those who prefer smaller crowds to visit during the 7 a.m. hour.
10:30 a.m. Zoo Atlanta announced Thursday it will reopen to the public on Saturday, May 16 with enhanced protocols and procedures to deal with the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.
"As important this is to us, it was essential that we not reopen the Zoo until we could do so confidently, with the safety of our visitors, team members and the animals in our care as the number one priority," said Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Raymond B. King.
According to Zoo Atlanta, the new protocols and procedures include:
Timed ticketing: Zoo Atlanta has transitioned to a timed ticketing system to control capacity and limit the number of guests who are inside the Zoo at any given time. Tickets may only be purchased online, and all transactions within the Zoo will be paperless, with no cash transactions. Paper maps will transition to all-digital maps guests may view on mobile devices. Timed tickets will be available beginning Thursday, May 14.
Outdoor experience: Zoo Atlanta provides a largely outdoor experience in a park environment. During this first phase of the Zoo’s reopening, all buildings (restrooms excepted), indoor venues and indoor experiences are temporarily closed, as are amenities such as Splash Fountain, rides and play areas. Food and gifts will be sold from outdoor kiosks.
One-way experience to optimize social distancing: At all locations where feasible, Zoo Atlanta will promote a one-way experience that reinforces social distancing guidelines. Pathway guides will be on hand to assist guests and encourage social distancing.
Promoting wellness: All Zoo Atlanta team members will wear masks in public-facing areas of Zoo grounds. Visitors are strongly encouraged to, but are not required to, wear masks. Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the Zoo for guest convenience. Zoo teams will also frequently clean and disinfect touchpoints, restroom touchpoints and restrooms using a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved disinfectant.
Encouraging recommended self-care: Visitors are encouraged to remain mindful of current CDC guidelines and public health recommendations by practicing appropriate self-care and social distancing while on Zoo grounds
10 a.m. Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street as more grim data pours in showing the economic damage being wrought by the coronavirus shutdowns. The S&P 500 lost 0.8% in the first few minutes of trading Thursday. The index is coming off two days of losses. Nearly 3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week as the outbreak led more companies to slash jobs, even as many states take tentative steps to reopen businesses. As of now, 36 million people have filed for unemployment aid in the two months since the coronavirus forced millions of businesses to close their doors.
9 a.m. The Georgia Department of Public Health has released the latest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. As of 9 a.m. Thursday, there are now 35,793 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The death toll from disease has now reached 1,523 deaths as a result of the rapidly spreading virus. Overall, Fulton County has the largest concentration with 3,616 reported cases with DeKalb County second in the state with 2,633. Gwinnett County has the third-most cases with 2,512.
8:30 a.m. The government says almost three million more people are out of work, just the latest in a wave of layoffs that have caused tens of millions of workers to lose their jobs. The 2,981,000 more people seeking jobless benefits adds to the 33 million who have already sought aid in the previous seven weeks as the coronavirus forced employers across the country to close. Though most nonessential businesses remain shut down, most states have begun to ease restrictions for some categories of retail establishments despite concerns that it may be too soon to do so without causing new infections. The number of first-time applications for jobless aid has declined for five straight weeks, suggesting that a dwindling number of companies are reducing their payrolls. By historical standards, though, the number of weekly applications remains enormous, reflecting an economy that’s sinking into a severe recession.
8 a.m. Global shares declined Thursday on pessimism about life getting back to normal soon amid the coronavirus pandemic, after the U.S. central bank chief warned of hard times to come. Investors were also braced for more jobless claims data out of the U.S., which are expected to show another 2 to 3 million people applied for benefits in the last week, further straining the labor market in the world's largest economy. In Europe, France's CAC 40 was down 1.9% to 4,261, while Germany's DAX fell 1.8% to 10,357. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 2.4% at 5,765. U.S. shares were also set for declines, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both down 0.2%. Stephen Innes, chief global strategist at AxiCorp, said markets were jittery after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, which set off worries about the risks of corporate failure in the U.S. and job losses. “The roller coaster recovery continues to be the theme of the week," Innes said, noting a second wave of COVID-19 infections could be ahead if lockdowns in any part of the world are eased too quickly.
7 a.m. French pharmaceutical group Sanofi ensured Thursday that it would make its COVID-19 vaccine, when ready, available in all countries, hours after the company's CEO said the United States will get first access. Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson's comments prompted angry reaction from the French government. Junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Sud Radio “to us, it would be unacceptable that a country would get privileged access under the pretext of money reasons.” In a statement released Thursday, Sanofi said “we have always been committed in these unprecedented circumstances to make our vaccine accessible to everyone.” Sanofi said its cooperation with U.S. agency BARDA allows the company “to initiate production as early as possible.” The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has funded the development of the vaccine. Hudson had previously told Bloomberg news agency that the U.S. would get first access to the French company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
6 a.m. President Donald Trump called on governors across the nation to work to reopen schools that were closed because of the coronavirus, pointedly taking issue with Dr. Anthony Fauci's caution against moving too quickly in sending students back to class. The president accused Fauci of wanting “to play all sides of the equation," a comment that suggested he is tiring of the nation's top infectious disease expert. “I think they should open the schools, absolutely. I think they should,” Trump told reporters at the White House, echoing comments he had made in a television interview. “Our country's got to get back and it's got to get back as soon as possible. And I don't consider our country coming back if the schools are closed.” Fauci had urged caution in testimony before a Senate committee Tuesday, although he made clear that he believes reopening decisions will likely differ from one region to the next. “We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be pretty careful, particularly when it comes to children,” Fauci told the committee. At one point, he told members that “the idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the re-entry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far.” Fauci later clarified that he was not implying students should be barred from returning to class until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed.
5 a.m. The Georgia Department of Public Health has released the latest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. As of 5 a.m. Thursday, there are now 35,427 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The death toll from disease has now reached 1,517 deaths as a result of the rapidly spreading virus. Overall, Fulton County has the largest concentration with 3,614 reported cases with DeKalb County second in the state with 2,632. Gwinnett County has the third-most cases with 2,510.
4 a.m. Asian shares declined Thursday on pessimism about life getting back to normal soon amid the coronavirus pandemic, even as Japan prepared to let businesses reopen in some regions. Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 1.7% to 19,914.78. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.4% to 5,344.30. South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.1% to 1,918.79. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 1.4% to 23,837.37, while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.9% at 2,873.48. India's Sensex lost 2% to 31,367.40, while markets also fell in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Stephen Innes, chief global strategist at AxiCorp, said markets were jittery after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, which set off worries about the risks of corporate failure in the U.S. and job losses.
11 a.m. Most stocks are falling in morning trading on Wall Street Wednesday, but more gains for technology stocks are helping to keep the market’s losses in check. The market has been wavering the last couple weeks after coming off its best month in a generation, as optimism about reopening the economy collides with worries about the dangers of lifting restrictions too soon. Most of the stocks in the S&P 500 were down after the first hour of trading, but the index was nevertheless close to flat after strength for tech stocks helped it erase an earlier loss of 1.1%. Markets around the world were showing caution, with European stocks down and Asian markets mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 64 points, or 0.3%, at 23,699. The Nasdaq composite, which is full of tech stocks, was up 0.7%.
10 a.m. Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street as traders assessed what new steps the government may need to take to prevent more wreckage to the economy because of shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 fell 0.9% in early trading Wednesday. Shortly before trading opened, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell urged Congress and the White House to take more action to prevent long-term economic damage, warning that many small businesses and households could still go bankrupt. At the same time, new clusters of infections have appeared as nations struggle to balance reopening economies with preventing a second wave of deaths.
9:10 a.m. The Georgia Department of Public Health has released the latest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. There are now 35,245 cases of COVID-19 in the state and the death toll from disease has now reached 1,493 deaths. Overall, Fulton County has the largest concentration with 3,596 reported cases with DeKalb County second in the state with 2,607. Gwinnett County has the third-most cases with 2,500.
9 a.m. Transit authorities in Atlanta, New York and other cities have joined forces to ask Congress to provide a coronavirus relief package. MARTA and transit agencies across the country are asking that $33 billion in aid be distributed based on the loss of non-federal revenues. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), NJ TRANSIT, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and the nation’s largest transportation unions, the Transport Workers Union (TWU), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), and the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO each demanded federal funding. Combined, the transit authorities move millions of Americans on a daily basis. To date, MARTA's costs for masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, and emergency sick leave totals $1.32 million. The company anticipates a $380 million deficit over five years.
8 a.m. Advice from the top U.S. disease control experts on how to safely reopen businesses and institutions during the coronavirus pandemic was more detailed and restrictive than the plan released by the White House last month. The guidance, which was shelved by Trump administration officials, also offered recommendations to help communities decide when to shut facilities down again during future flareups of COVID-19. The Associated Press obtained a 63-page document that is more detailed than other, previously reported segments of the shelved guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It shows how the thinking of the CDC infection control experts differs from those in the White House managing the pandemic response. The White House’s “Opening Up America Again” plan that was released April 17 included some of the CDC’s approach, but made clear that the onus for reopening decisions was solely on state governors and local officials. By contrast, the organizational tool created by the CDC advocates for a coordinated national response to give community leaders step-by-step instructions to “help Americans re-enter civic life,” with the idea that there would be resurgences of the virus and lots of customization needed. The White House said last week that the document was a draft and not ready for release. It contains the kinds of specifics that officials need to make informed decisions, some experts said.
7 a.m. Public pools and summer day camps for kids will be allowed to reopen, but under strict guidelines. "Camps can start planning now to reopen with safeguards in place,” said Governor Brian Kemp during a press conference Tuesday. Public pools will be allowed to open with groups of 10 or fewer and must adhere to guidelines. The Governor's office stated that facilities will need to contact their local health department to determine if and when they need an inspection. The governor also announced summer camps for Georgians will be allowed to open to the relief of some parents, while others didn't like what they heard. Starting May 14, camps will be allowed to reopen under strict guidelines. Day camps and summer camps will only be allowed to have groups of 20, including camp workers, if 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.Parents will also have to stay in cars when dropping off children who will be screened upon entering. The YMCA of Metro Atlanta says starting May 15 a number of their facilities will begin opening, including youth programming, which in some instances may start prior to regular facility operations. For now, camps are not allowed to take kids overnight, and when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Public Health guidelines come out, they will supersede the Governor's Executive Order. Those who work with children and have children themselves are hoping parents who need the camps will get the placements.
6 a.m. Global shares were mixed Wednesday after Wall Street fell to its biggest loss since the start of the month on worries about the downside of reopening the economy from coronavirus shutdowns too soon. Stocks retreated Wednesday in London, Tokyo and Paris, but reversed early losses in Shanghai. Gloomy economic indicators pulled European shares lower in early trading. India's Sensex jumped more than 2% after the government announced it would spend more than $260 billion more to help the economy weather the pandemic. Underscoring concerns about the risks of ending shutdowns before the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told Congress on Tuesday that if the country reopens too soon, it could not only cause “some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.” Those comments reverberated in global markets.
5 a.m. The British economy shrank 2% in the first quarter of the year from the previous three-month period, the biggest quarterly decline since the global financial crisis of 2008 even though it included just one week of the coronavirus lockdown, official figures showed Wednesday. The Office of National Statistics found that the slump was getting deeper as the quarter came to an end, with output down by 5.8% in March alone, the month when curbs on everyday life started being put in place by the British government. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the U.K. into full lockdown on March 23, days after closing pubs and restaurants and schools. The March figure illustrates the scale of the coronavirus slump to come, with the Bank of England, for example, warning of the biggest annual slump since 1706. “With the arrival of the pandemic, nearly every aspect of the economy was hit in March, dragging growth to a record monthly fall,” said statistician Jonathan Athow. During March, the only sectors that did grow reflected the needs of a country dealing with a pandemic - IT support, soaps and cleaning products, and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals.
4 a.m. Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony Corp. reported Wednesday that its quarterly profit tumbled as the coronavirus pandemic delayed music and movie releases and disrupted product supply chains. Tokyo-based Sony's profit in January-March crashed 86% to 12.6 billion yen ($118 million), a fraction of the 87.9 billion yen earned a year ago. The spread of COVID-19 has crimped consumer spending, shut movie theaters, canceled events and sent share prices falling — all damaging for a company with sprawling businesses like Sony. Quarterly sales and operating revenue fell a combined 18% to 1.7 trillion yen ($16 billion). The company did not give forecasts for the fiscal year through March 2021, citing uncertainties due to the pandemic. It said projections will be released as soon as possible. Sony said its electronics and financial services businesses especially suffered. Consumer demand declined, especially in regions where lockdowns closed retailers. Shutdowns of factories in China and Malaysia also hurt the company's electronics operations.