By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The number of U.S. cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 marked a grim milestone of more than 2 million on Thursday, and cases continued to climb in 21 states, even as they push ahead with reopening economies after lockdowns and restrictions on movement.
The increasing rate of new infections in states, including California, Texas and Florida is raising fears of a second wave breaking out just as business activity is resuming. The stock market, which has seemed resilient to much of the bad news on the virus, cratered after the latest jobless claims data showed more than 47 million people have sought benefits since the start of the outbreak.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that shutting the economy for a second time is not a viable option. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, announced he will resume holding election rallies with the first in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19th and is not expected to require that attendees practice social distancing.
Critics echoed the concerns of public-health experts that Americans will suffer unnecessary hardship and deaths if reopening continues to spread the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said the pandemic is not over yet and described it as his worst nightmare after it took a single month to span the globe.
“After months of failing to respond quickly or effectively to the COVID-19 crisis, the Trump administration appears to be trying out a new strategy: pretending the pandemic is over,” said Kyle Herrig, president of nonpartisan watchdog Accountable.US in a statement. “The problem is, that won’t stop the virus from spreading — nor will it help the millions of Americans struggling to make rent and put food on the table as the economy continues to struggle.
“People’s lives are on the line — we need Trump to treat this pandemic with the seriousness it deserves and help keep the American people safe.”
All 50 states are in the process of reopening and some are even starting to allow visits to nursing home residents, about three months after they were stopped to avoid spreading the virus. West Virginia is allowing visitation by appointment from June 17, if the nursing home has had no cases of COVID-19 for at least the past 14 days.
Massachusetts and Indiana, for example, already allow visits, only outside, and Ohio this week began allowing visits in assisted-living and intermediate-care facilities. In many other states, families often resort to visits through windows.
Nursing home residents accounted for at least a quarter of the more than 113,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the pandemic, according to data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 60,000 cases of illness have been reported, and nearly 26,000 of those residents died.
Managing their reopening is viewed as a major test, ahead of the reopening of schools later in the year.
There are now 7.43 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and at least 418,052 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University . At least 3.5 million people have recovered.
The U.S. has the highest case toll in the world at 2.0 million and the highest death toll at 113,209.
Brazil has 772,416 cases and 39,680 fatalities, the data show. Brazil, which stopped updating its official numbers at the weekend, has resumed its updating of its numbers after a Supreme Court judge ordered the government to do so.
Russia has topped 500,000 cases after a spike overnight. It now has 501,800 cases and 6,522 fatalities.
The U.K. has 292,854 cases and 41,364 deaths, the highest death toll in Europe and second highest in the world after the U.S.
India now has 286,577 cases and 8,102 deaths.
Two early hot spots, Spain has 242,707 cases and 27,136 deaths, while Italy has 236,142 cases and 34,167 deaths.
Peru, France Germany, Iran, Turkey Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Canada are next and all ahead of China, where the illness was first reported late last year. China has 84,210 cases and 4,638 deaths.
What’s the latest medical news?
Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -0.54% said it has finalized the Phase 3 study protocol for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, although the Phase 2 trial, which began dosing patients less than two weeks ago, has not been completed.
Moderna has previously said it expects the experimental vaccine to move into Phase 3 trials in July if it is successful in the mid-stage study. The plans for the Phase 3 trial include a randomized, placebo-controlled study with about 30,000 participants in the U.S.
The primary endpoint will test whether a 100 microgram dose of the investigational vaccine prevents symptomatic COVID-19 disease, and secondary endpoints will evaluate if the vaccine candidate can prevent severe forms of COVID-19 and infection from the virus at all.