Economists estimate the Labor Department will report Thursday that up to 3.3 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, a day before the department is set to release a jobs report expected to be the worst ever for workers.
There were more than 73,400 deaths and 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. early Thursday, according to the John Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed over 264,000 people and infected more than 3.7 million.
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Here are some of the most important developments to start Thursday:An ICE detainee in Southern California died from the coronavirus, the first death reported in a U.S. immigration detention center.A day after Vice President Mike Pence announced plans to wind down the White House coronavirus task force, President Donald Trump said the group won't shut down. Instead, it will shift its focus to developing vaccines and reopening the economy.The meatpacking industry has more than 10,000 coronavirus cases, according to USA TODAY and Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting tracking.
Good news to start your day: People in Ireland are donating to Native Americans grappling with the coronavirus, saying they were inspired by a 173-year-old act of kindness: In 1847, members of the Choctaw Nation gave $170, which would be roughly $5,000 today, to the Irish during the famine.
What we're talking about: Coronavirus antibody tests are available around the country. Here's why they may provide a false sense of security.
Jobless claims estimated to reach 33 million during pandemic
Roughly 3.1 to 3.3 million Americans filed initial applications for unemployment insurance last week, economists estimate, down from the roughly 3.8 million people who filed claims the week before and the all-time high of 6.86 million applications filed in late March.
But if the latest weekly total, which the Labor Department reports Thursday, matches estimates, it will mean 33 million Americans have applied for unemployment in just seven weeks, a number that exceeds all the jobs created since the Great Recession by more than 12 million. Thursday's tally is a prelude to Friday's April jobs report, which is expected to be grim confirmation of the devastating toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the U.S. economy
First ICE detainee dies from coronavirus at California facility
A 57-year-old man who was being held at Otay Mesa Detention Center, a federal immigration detention center in San Diego, died Wednesday morning from complications of the coronavirus, according to Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director for San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency's Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch.
The man appears to be the first detainee in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to die of complications of COVID-19. He had been hospitalized since late April, McDonald said during the county's daily coronavirus briefing.
ICE has not confirmed the death to the USA TODAY Network. The detention center has the largest COVID-19 outbreak among any ICE facility in the country, with 132 confirmed cases — or about 19% of the 705 total cases — as of Wednesday afternoon, according to ICE.
– Rebecca Plevin, Palm Springs (Calif.) Desert Sun
California to get $247M refund after failed deal for protective masks
California will be refunded $247 million it paid to a Chinese company under a major deal for protective masks after the company failed to meet a deadline for federal certification of the masks, Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration said Wednesday.
Newsom announced the contract last month to fanfare, saying California had inked a nearly $1 billion deal for 200 million protective masks per month amid the coronavirus pandemic. Most were set to be tight-fitting N-95 respirator masks, while the rest would be looser-fitting surgical masks.
Millions of the surgical masks already arrived, but the company missed an April 30 deadline outlined in the contract for certification of the N95 masks by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
States reopening: Hawaii, Michigan, Montana take steps toward normalcy
Hawaii and Michigan will take significant steps toward reopening on Thursday, with some shopping malls opening again in The Aloha State and construction and real estate operations resuming in The Great Lakes State.
Also Thursday, Montana will permit schools to resume "in-classroom teaching" at the discretion of local school boards. Friday will bring the end of statewide stay-at-home orders in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Find the latest news from your state.
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Asian shares mixed after Wall Street slumps again on coronavirus worries
Asian shares were mixed Thursday after a decline on Wall Street after more depressing data on the impact of coronavirus on the global economy.
Comments by President Donald Trump on trade with China and casting blame on Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic have further dampened sentiment.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.2% in morning trading after reopening from Golden Week holidays, and South Korea's Kospi added 0.1%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell nearly 0.7% and the Shanghai Composite was flat.
Trump said he would soon assess progress in a preliminary trade agreement with China that took effect in January, extending a truce in a painful tariffs war between the world's two biggest economies.
The possibility of revived friction over trade at a time when economies have been slammed by pandemic shutdowns and travel restrictions has rattled investors in Asia, where China is the main driver for regional growth.
Gap Inc. plans to reopen up to 800 stores by the end of this month
Gap Inc. plans to reopen hundreds of stores this month, including some as soon as this weekend, another sign that the economic freeze spurred by the coronavirus may be slowly starting to thaw.
The retailer said it intends to reopen up to 800 locations under its various brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic and Gap, by the end of May.
A small number of stores in Texas will be back in business this weekend. Like many companies, Gap shuttered its stores amid mandates that all but the most essential businesses close to foot traffic to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
– Charisse Jones
USA TODAY tracking: More than 10,000 COVID-19 cases in meatpacking plants
The meatpacking industry hit a grim milestone this week with the number of coronavirus cases tied to outbreaks at its beleaguered plants reaching more than 10,000, according to USA TODAY and Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting tracking.
At least 170 plants in 29 states have had one or more worker test positive for the coronavirus. Some of those workers also have infected others, which is included in the count. At least 45 workers have died. The outbreaks have prompted the closure of at least 40 meat slaughtering and processing plants — lasting anywhere from one day to several weeks — since the start of the pandemic.
The shutdowns sparked meat shortages in some parts of the country and triggered an executive order by President Donald Trump to keep plants open. But more than a week after Trump’s order, closures have continued unabated, the media outlets found.
Federal government has thousands of ventilators for national reserve
Thousands of new ventilators, the life-saving machines in limited supply during the early stages of the pandemic in the U.S., are pouring into the federal government’s reserve.
This week was the deadline for the first set of ventilators that President Donald Trump compelled companies to produce after invoking the Defense Production Act on April 2. The move came after coronavirus-stricken patients inundated hospitals and tapped their supplies.
More than 4,400 of the breathing machines had been produced for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Strategic National Stockpile, according to Stephanie Bialek, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In all, the government ordered 187,000 from nine companies that it expects to receive in batches throughout the year.
– Erin Mansfield
Looking for Clorox wipes? The wait will stretch into the summer months
Don't expect an abundance of disinfecting products at the store for several more weeks.
Clorox says retail shelves will not be fully stocked with its popular wipes and other disinfectant cleaners used to combat COVID-19 until the summer. “It’s going to be touch and go until then, unfortunately,” Clorox chairman and CEO Benno Dorer told Yahoo Finance in an interview.
Shoppers have become increasingly frustrated as they scour the internet and local stores for Lysol sprays and Clorox wipes, only to find shelves picked clean. Manufacturers like Clorox were not prepared for skyrocketing demand in an usually predictable sector.
– Jessica Guynn
Donald Trump says White House task force will remain intact 'indefinitely'
Less than a day after signaling the White House coronavirus task force would be disbanded, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the group will "continue on indefinitely" and shift focus to reopening and manufacturing vaccines. Vice President Mike Pence and other officials said Tuesday the group's work would be transferred to federal agencies within weeks. That plan drew fire from some critics who said it was too soon to disband the group.
"The Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN," Trump posted in a series of tweets Wednesday. "The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics. Thank you!"
– John Fritze and David Jackson
More coronavirus headlines from USA TODAYTravel with your taste buds:Try these recipes from around the world during coronavirus quarantine.Open? Closed? Here's how the 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico are working to roll back social distancing regulations. The race for a coronavirus vaccine:Can we ethically infect people with a disease with no cure?Mapping coronavirus: Tracking the U.S. outbreak, state by state.
Contributing: The Associated Press