The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR
— South Korea sees smallest daily jump in new cases since Feb. 20
— 63 new COVID-19 cases in China, but none in hard-hit Hubei.
— WHO leader dodges questions on Trump's criticism.
— British official says PM Boris Johnson improving.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it has reported 39 more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, in a continued slowdown of the virus outbreak in the Asian country.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement Thursday the additional cases increased the country’s total to 10,423. It says 6,973 of them have been recovered and released from quarantine. The center says fatalities from the coronavirus rose by four to 204.
But, the 39 new cases are the smallest daily jump since Feb. 20. South Korea recorded 47 and 53 new cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.
There are still worries about a steady rise in infections linked to international arrivals, which has helped inflate the caseload in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.
A total of 22 of the 39 new cases have been reported in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada’s governor on Wednesday ordered a closure of golf courses, real estate open houses, religious gatherings of 10 people or more and additional restrictions to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Gov. Steve Sisolak said he was adding restrictions because some people have created an unnecessary risk by trying to circumvent the rules he has already put in place. Other restrictions were designed to cut down on the amount of time people spend next to others, he said.
The governor last month ordered a closure of non-essential businesses, including gambling and casinos, and issued a directive telling Nevadans to stay at home, though exceptions were granted for people going outside to exercise.
Sisolak said at a news conference Wednesday night he was ordering the closure of sports and recreational facilities where people congregate, such as golf courses, tennis courts, basketball courts and pools. He said that despite his decision last month to leave golf courses open, he had seen pictures that had been sent to him of people riding together in golf carts and standing together on the greens.
The governor said a new directive he signed bars grocery stores from having any self-service food such as salad bars or unpackaged bulk food, where customers would touch the same scoops and servers. It also restricts barbers and hair stylists from offering in-home services to anyone outside their immediate household.
BEIJING — China’s National Health Commission on Thursday reported 63 new COVID-19 cases, including 61 which it says are imported infections in recent arrivals from abroad and two “native” cases in the southern province of Guangdong.
There were no new cases reported in Hubei, the central province hardest-hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Two new deaths however were reported, both in Hubei.
The provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, ended its 76-day lockdown Wednesday. Long lines formed at the airport and train and bus stations as thousands streamed out of the city to return to their homes and jobs elsewhere.
The National Health Commission also reported 56 new cases of people who tested positive for COVID-19, but did not show any symptoms. In total, 77,370 people in China have recovered from the disease and 3,335 people have died, according to the commission.
WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidance for essential workers as it takes a small step toward reopening the country.
The guidance applies to essential workers, such as those in the health care and food supply industry, who have been within 6 feet of a person who has a confirmed or suspected case of the new coronavirus.
CDC Director Robert Redfield says the employee can return to work as long as they take their temperature before they go to work, wear a face mask at all times and practice social distancing while they are at work.
Redfield said the employees should continue to stay home if they are sick.
He also said employers in those critical industries should take the temperatures of a worker before allowing them to come back to work.
Redfield announced the new guidance during the daily White House briefing on the U.S. efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
The new guidelines will be posted on cdc.gov.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence says Philadelphia is emerging as a potential hot spot for the coronavirus and urged its residents to heed social distancing guidelines.
Pence says he spoke to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, and he says Pittsburgh is also being monitored for a possible rise in cases.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement is reporting an increase in the number of detainees in its custody who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
ICE says there are 32 confirmed cases. It reported 13 cases on Tuesday. The biggest concentration is at a detention center in San Diego, where five detainees have tested positive. The agency says not all of those who have tested positive remain in custody.
The U.S. holds around 35,000 people in immigration custody. Immigration advocates have been calling for the release of immigration detainees because of the risk to the people in custody as well as detention staff and the health care system in nearby communities.
ICE says 11 of its employees working in detention operations have tested positive.
WASHINGTON — The general who heads the Army Corps of Engineers says communities are running out of time to build new medical facilities for any overflow of coronavirus patients that local hospitals can’t handle.
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite tells reporters he believes the Corps will be done starting new projects in about a week. He says government leaders “have to think through the worst case and get ahead of it while they have time.”
If a city thinks they’ll see a peak of virus patients around April 24, and they haven’t made a decision yet to build more rooms, it may be too late, he says.
So far, 17 facilities, with about 15,000 beds, have been built, and another 17 have been planned by the Corps and developed by local communities and contractors. Another 23 facilities are pending, but it’s not clear how many of those may actually be built.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown says Oregon’s K-12 schools will remain closed though the end of the academic year due to the coronavirus outbreak, placing the state’s more than 550,000 students and their teachers in uncharted territory as districts with vastly different resources plan for weeks of remote learning.
Seniors who had passing grades and were on track to graduate when the state’s stay-at-home order began in mid-March will be able to graduate, said Brown.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron had a video conference call with the leader of the World Health Organization on Wednesday.
In a conversation with Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Macron reaffirmed “his belief that the WHO is key to respond" to the coronavirus crisis, following criticism by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Macron tweeted that they also discussed the evolution of the pandemic, strategy to face it in France and in the world, research on vaccination and the preparation of an initiative for the African continent.
At the White House on Tuesday, Trump first said the United States would “put a hold” on WHO funding, and then revised that to say, “We will look at ending funding.”
SEATTLE — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says a Department of Defense field hospital that had been set up by the football field where the Seattle Seahawks play will be returned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency so it can be deployed to another state facing more of a coronavirus crisis.
Late last month Inslee announced 300 soldiers from the 627th Army Hospital at Fort Carson, Colorado, had deployed to Seattle to staff the hospital, which was expected to create at up to 250 hospital beds for non-COVID-19 cases.
Inslee says the decision to send the field hospital elsewhere was made after consulting with local, state and federal leaders.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s president says his older son has been hospitalized following an infection with the new coronavirus.
President Aleksandar Vucic says on Instagram that his 22-year-old son Danilo has been admitted at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Belgrade.
Vucic says “my first son has been infected with the coronavirus and his clinical condition is such that he has been hospitalized” at the clinic. Vucic adds “son, you will win this.” No other details were immediately available.
Danilo Vucic is the Serbian president’s son from his first marriage. Vucic also has a daughter and another son.
MINNEAPOLIS — Gov. Tim Walz is extending Minnesota’s stay-at-home order until May 4, saying the original order has bought the state needed time to slow the spread of the coronavirus but needs to be continued.
Walz’s original order was scheduled to end Friday. But while Walz said Minnesotans have responded well, he notes in his new emergency executive order that confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rapidly increasing in Minnesota, and community spread of the disease also is increasing in the state and nation.
Walz’s new order also extends the closure of bars, restaurants and other public accommodations through 11:59 p.m. on May 3.
The Minnesota Department of Health reported 85 new cases Wednesday, raising the state’s total to 1,154, and it reported five new deaths for a total of 39.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he spoke with mayors Wednesday who continued to express concerns about some churches not following the state health director’s stay-at-home order.
The Republican governor says he’s not going to violate people’s First Amendment rights by banning worship, but he also says he’s not aware of any religion that supports putting others in danger.
“We’re not going to draw a line, we’re not going to put someone who will stand in a door and stop people from going into a church,” DeWine said. “We just ask everyone to love your neighbor.”
ROME — Public health officials in the virus-ravaged Lombardy region are pushing back against accusations they made a series of early errors in containing the outbreak that cost lives.
Lombardy’s chief health care official Giulio Gallera says in a letter he was “stupified and embittered” by the seven-point memo published earlier this week by the association of doctors in Lombardy.
The doctors had blasted what they said was a lack of data about the true number of people infected, the lack of tests for doctors and nurses, and the inadequate distribution of protective equipment and masks for medical personnel.
Lombardy has been the epicenter of Europe’s COVID-19 outbreak, registering more than 50,000 of Italy’s infections and nearly 10,000 of Italy’s 17,669 dead.
Gallera notes that many of the doctors’ complaints concerned issues that are out of the region’s control and reflected decisions taken by the national government. He is defending Lombardy’s handling of the outbreak and urging the association to work with the region and not against it.
MADRID — Authorities in Madrid say at least 4,260 of 4,750 people who lived in the region’s nursing homes and died since the coronavirus began spreading there had the COVID-19 disease or its symptoms.
The figures for the hard-hit Spanish capital shed light on the gap between deaths linked to the virus and actual numbers reported by health authorities, which are confirmed by positive tests.
For Madrid, the confirmed number of elderly COVID-19 deaths was 781 as of Wednesday, meaning that the rest of the elderly who showed symptoms before dying but weren’t tested are not showing up in the national toll. The Health Ministry said the country’s total was 14,555 on Wednesday.
The ministry’s daily figures are being scrutinized to track the epidemic’s impact — and plan its response.
“The figures are much higher than in an ordinary month, because when the virus penetrates in a nursing home it creates havoc,” said Ignacio Aguado, the No. 2 in the Madrid regional government. “These are devastating data that we are fighting against.”
The loopholes in the accounting of the pandemic also had been questioned in the tracking of the contagion tally because Spain’s laboratories have been unable to conduct widespread tests beyond hospitals and nursing homes. Positive infections recorded on Wednesday rose to 146,000.
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
8 Biotech Stocks to Buy and Hold in 2020
Biotech stocks are far from a sure thing. However, towards the end of 2019 several stocks in the sector got a nice lift based on promising new drugs in their pipelines. One of the key ways to measure any biotech stocks is the depth of its pipeline. When a biotech company issues a drug, its stock typically gets a lift because, for a brief period of time, the company has exclusive rights to that stock.
But those rights only last for a period of time. And at that point, generic equivalents can enter the market. Since generic labels typically bring prices down, it can be harmful to the stock unless they have a continuous stream of drugs coming to the market.
And in 2020, the story of biotech companies has been the coronavirus. Several of the leading biotech firms are working either individually or in tandem with other firms to develop vaccines or antiviral therapies to help treat and eventually blunt the spread of the virus which remains foreign to our bodies.
So while a volatile market is typically a clue to stay away from biotech stocks, now may be an ideal time to jump into this sector. And we’ve identified 8 stocks that you can buy today and hold until the end of the year.
View the "8 Biotech Stocks to Buy and Hold in 2020".