A coronavirus novel pandemic has now killed more than 673,000 people worldwide.
Over 17.3 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 current number is believed to be much higher due to lack of testing, many reported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
Since the first cases were discovered in China in December, the United States has become the worst-hit country, with nearly 4.5 million cases diagnosed and at least 152,075 deaths.
Here is how the news is unfolding today. All Eastern times.
10:36 am: Florida reports 4th day of deaths on record, DeSantis announces new initiative to fight COVID
The Florida Department of Health recorded 257 deaths in the last 24 hours, setting a new, grim record for the state for the fourth day in a row.
There are now 6,966 total deaths and the number of confirmed cases has reached 470,386, an increase of 9,007 in the last 24 hours, according to the health agency.
The rise in deaths and cases comes on the same day as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new initiative to stop the spread of the virus.
The DeSantis initiative – called One Goal One Florida – encourages the public to follow four guidelines: Protect the vulnerable, practice proper hygiene, practice social distancing, and wear a mask if you are in close contact with another person.
“COVID-19 has been a significant challenge for all Floridians, but I am 100% confident that we can and will overcome this challenge,” DeSantis said in a statement. “To this end, I am asking all Floridians to join me in this important endeavor.”
DeSantis has previously encouraged people to wear masks when they cannot maintain social distance; however, the initiative is believed to be the first official plan submitted by the state.
10:13 am: Cardinals v. Game canceled Brewers
The St. Louis Cardinals postponed their game against the Milwukee Brewers on Friday after numerous positive coronavirus tests were reported, a source told ESPN.
It was not accurate how many positive tests were reported.
Both teams were expected to play in Milwaukee at 2:10 p.m. local time.
Six of the 30 Mayer League Baseball teams will not play on Friday due to coronavirus cases. This is 20% of the league.
7:25 a.m.: 45 fraternity members at the University of Southern California test positive
At least 45 fraternity members at the University of Southern California have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed the cases as it investigated a coronavirus outbreak in three fraternities linked to the private university in Los Angeles. The names of the fraternities involved were not published.
“The outbreak may be linked to a large social rally on July 4,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement Thursday night. “As a reminder, gatherings of people from different families are prohibited under the Order of the Health Officer in the country. These are high-risk situations when COVID-19 can spread rapidly to many people. Those people, even if asymptomatic, then it could spread to their family, which could include someone who is seriously ill or dying. ”
ABC News has reached the University of Southern California for comment.
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6:32 am: Hong Kong government delays elections, citing coronavirus
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced Friday that the much-anticipated legislative election scheduled for September has been postponed, citing the coronavirus outbreak in China’s semi-autonomous city.
Lam told a news conference that his government has China’s support in deciding to delay local elections by a year – a move that is likely to anger lawmakers and supporters of democracy.
Lam said it was “the most difficult decision I have made in the last seven months” but a “necessary one” for “protecting public health, people’s lives and guaranteeing fair elections”.
Hong Kong has seen a spike in coronavirus infections in recent weeks. The total number of diagnosed cases stands at 3,273, including at least 27 deaths, according to the latest data from the Hong Kong Department of Health.
6:14 am: Dr. Anthony Fauci testify at Capitol Hill
Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s best experts on the coronavirus pandemic, is set to testify Friday on Capitol Hill.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, last testified before Congress on June 30th. His latest appearance comes amid rising COVID-19 United States cases and controlling his strained relationship with President Donald Trump.
Fauci will be joined during an in-person / remote hybrid hearing by two other key officials from the working group: the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, and Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, Adm Brett Giroir.
5:39 am: South Africa reports more than 11,000 new cases overnight
The South African Ministry of Health said there were 11,046 new cases of COVID-19 reported across the country on Thursday.
That brings the country total to 482,169, including 7,812 deaths, according to data released early Friday morning by the South African Department of Health.
The registration of the last days of cases is slightly below the country record set on July 9, when about 13,500 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.
South Africa has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 diagnosed cases in the world, according to a calculation held by Johns Hopkins University. The country also accounts for more than half of the total number of cases in Africa.
4:27 am: US registers over 67,000 new cases in a single day
More than 67,600 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Thursday, according to a estimate held by Johns Hopkins University.
The last days of case registration are below the country record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.
A total of 4,494,601 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, and at least 152,055 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases involve people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, DC and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting home stay orders and other restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in country affairs then rose to about 20,000 for two weeks before shooting again and exceeding 70,000 for the first time in mid-July.
Many states have seen an increase in infections in recent weeks, with some – including Arizona, California and Florida – reporting daily data.
ABC News’ Kirit Radia, Rachel Katz, Scott Withers and Brian Hartman contributed to this report.