More than 4.6 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.
The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 1.4 million diagnosed cases and at least 88,754 deaths.
Today’s biggest developments:
Here’s how the news developed on Saturday. All times Eastern.
4:48 a.m.: Texas reports single highest daily rate increase of infections
The latest number of of coronavirus cases in Texas jumped by 1,801 in a single day, the highest daily rate since the state started tracking data. The number of cases reported now stands at 46,999, according to the latest figures released by Johns Hopkins University.
There are currently 19,093 active cases statewide with 1,791 patients hospitalized — which is an increase of 75 from yesterday.
A total of 678,471 people have been tested out of a statewide population of around 29 million people.
The state of Texas has also reported 1,305 fatalities — an increase of 33 but down from the two day high of 58 and 56 the previous two days.
12:35 a.m.:Federal judge blocks North Carolina governor’s restrictions on religious services
A federal judge issued an order on Saturday that allows North Carolina religious leaders to reopen their doors to their congregations in spite of the governor’s warning that they risk spreading coronavirus.
Gov. Roy Cooper said he wouldn’t appeal the ruling blocking his restrictions on indoor religious services.
A hearing is scheduled May 29 on whether the order will become permanent.
The order prevents Cooper from taking enforcement actions against religious worshipers but also states they should observe recommendations for social distancing and reduce transmission of the virus when possible.
Governor Cooper’s spokesperson issued the following statement in response to the order.
“We don’t want indoor meetings to become hotspots for the virus and our health experts continue to warn that large groups sitting inside for long periods of time are much more likely to cause the spread of COVID-19. While our office disagrees with the decision, we will not appeal, but instead urge houses of worship and their leaders to voluntarily follow public health guidance to keep their members safe.”
7:45 p.m.: ‘Pharma Bro’ denied release from prison
Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive imprisoned for fraud and most infamous for hiking the price of a lifesaving drug, was rejected for release due to COVID-19.
Shkreli, 37, had argued for release in part because of his work in bio pharmaceuticals, which he said could benefit the public. If allowed to research coronavirus, Shkreli said he could bring a cure to market.
The judge flatly rejected the claim.
“The court does not find that releasing Mr. Shkreli will protect the public, even though Mr. Shkreli seeks to leverage his experience with pharmaceuticals to help develop a cure for COVID-19 that he would purportedly provide at no cost,” U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York Kiyo A. Matsumoto wrote.