More Than Two Million Coronavirus Cases Confirmed Worldwide

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America

Another 5.2 million people filed jobless claims in the United States last week, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the nation surpassed 639,000 people on Thursday. At least 137,000 worldwide have been killed by the virus, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump accused China of covering up the number of cases and deaths, adding that he was looking into an unsubstantiated theory that the virus may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory.

"Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China … does anybody really believe that?" Trump asked during Wednesday's White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. "Some countries are in big, big trouble and they're not reporting the facts — and that's up to them."

Here is your COVID-19 update for Thursday, April 16:

Pork Processing Plant in South Dakota Largest Coronavirus Hot Spot in U.S.

A pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota that had to shutter its doors after hundreds of employees were diagnosed with COVID-19 this week, has become the largest hotspot for coronavirus in the United States.

More than 500 employees at Smithfield Foods, one of the largest pork processors in the country, have tested positive for coronavirus with another 126 cases of non-employees becoming infected after coming into contact with an employee. The 518 employees and 126 non-employees make the pork processing plant the single largest cluster of COVID-19 cases in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The previous record was held by an outbreak of 585 cases aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam.

Smithfield Foods announced Sunday that it was closing the plant in Sioux Falls indefinitely on Wednesday, furloughing most of the 3,700 employees that work at the plant.

A CDC team is scheduled to tour the plant Thursday with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. The team will create a checklist of things that need to happen before the plant can reopen. Noem says she's working with health officials and Smithfield Foods to get the plant back online as soon as possible.

The pork processing plant represents 3% to 4% of the country's pork production.

Students Could Take SAT at Home if Schools Still Closed in the Fall

As students continue their studies from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, College Board officials announced Wednesday that a home version of the SAT college entrance exam is being prepared in the event schools remain closed into the fall.

"The College Board will ensure students have opportunities to take the SAT to make up for the lost administrations this spring, giving them opportunities to show their strengths and continue on the path to college," the organization said in a statement posted to its website.

The home version of the test would be digital and rely on what's known as "remote proctoring." The student would be monitored while taking the exam online by using the computer's camera and microphone, College Board President Jeremy Singer said Wednesday.

"As with at-home AP Exams, the College Board would ensure that at-home SAT testing is simple; secure and fair; accessible to all; and valid for use in college admissions," the website added.

Tests scheduled for June have already been canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We would much prefer that schools reopen but we are ready to innovate and deliver in the unlikely case we need to,” College Board Chief Executive David Coleman said.

News of the stay-at-home SAT exam comes after the College Board announced that Advanced Placement (AP) exams would be administered digitally later this spring.

At least three million students will be taking their AP exams online this year, the College Board said.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America

Another 5.2 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Benefits This Week

A third wave of Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits this week as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the American Economy. The Labor Department on Thursday reported more than 5 million new unemployment claims, adding to the more than 16 million who have already found themselves out of work amid the lockdown in recent weeks.

Later Thursday, President Donald Trump is expected to address U.S. governors about guidelines on how to reopen the nation's economy over the next few weeks.

“These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country,” Trump said Wednesday at the White House.

Some states could reopen before current social distancing policies end on May 1.

Japan Extends State of Emergency to Include Entire Country

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the nation was extending its current coronavirus state of emergency already in place in many regions, to the rest of the country.

"We will expand the state of emergency issued on April 7th from the current 7 prefectures to all prefectures. This will be in effect until May 6th, as we have previously announced," Abe said during an address.

A state of emergency was already in place in seven regions in the country, including Tokyo and Osaka. Japan's state of emergency is not as draconian as other countries. People are asked to stay at home in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. However, Japan has seen their rate of infection doubling every eight days, and topped 9,000 on Thursday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The number of fatalities from COVID-19 in Japan also surpassed 130.

The outbreak, while not as bad as what's been seen in Europe and the United States, is growing rapidly in the country as people prepare for its national golden week holiday, which is supposed to begin at the end of this month.

"We have to do whatever it takes to reduce person-to-person contact by at least 70% and preferably 80%," Abe said.

Photos: Getty Images

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