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(CNN) — The coronavirus spreading across the globe might never be eliminated, a leading World Health Organization official has said.

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During a media briefing in Geneva, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, warned Wednesday that the disease may join the mix of viruses that kill people around the world every year,

“This virus just may become another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away. HIV hasn’t gone away,” Ryan said. “I’m not comparing the two diseases but I think it is important that we’re realistic. I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear.”

More than 4.3 million cases of the virus have been recorded worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s latest tally.

10 p.m. update:

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Coronavirus outbreaks are testing the public health networks in pockets of the U.S., while some states prepare to lift lockdown measures, seeing signs of progress. From a hospital near the Navajo Nation to the suburbs of the nation’s capital, front-line medical workers in COVID-19 hot spots are struggling to keep up with a crushing patient load. Governors are starting to slowly reopen some segments of their local economies, pointing to evidence that deaths and new hospitalizations are peaking or starting to recede. But a government whistleblower warned Thursday that the U.S. faces its “darkest winter in modern history” unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound.

9 p.m. update:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Hundreds of people angry over Michigan’s coronavirus stay-at-home order protested in heavy rain outside the state Capitol. The demonstration Thursday was smaller than previous rallies. It was organized by a conservative activist group that has sued Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and organized or participated in several protests since early April. The Republican-led Legislature was not in session, and the Capitol was closed to the public. Although the state attorney general warned that protesters who flouted social distancing requirements could face arrest, there were no arrests at Thursday’s protest. A court will hear arguments Friday in Republican lawmakers’ lawsuit challenging the governor’s ability to extend an emergency declaration without their blessing.

8 p.m. update:

NEW YORK (AP) — As calls grow nationwide for mandatory coronavirus testing in nursing homes, New York facilities are sounding alarms about the state’s ambitious new demand to test roughly 185,000 workers twice a week. Administrators worry there won’t be enough test kits. The homes also have questioned who will cover an expense estimated around $150 per test, though the state said suggested Thursday the homes could send workers to free state testing sites. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the testing requirement may be “a pain in the neck,” but it’s necessary.

6:10 p.m. update:

(AP)– A congressional watchdog agency has agreed to investigate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ oversight of homes for aging veterans following a surge of coronavirus deaths at the state-run facilities. The Government Accountability Office said in a letter Thursday that it will conduct a review into the VA’s oversight of care at state veterans homes after a request by a group of Democratic senators. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Jon Tester of Montana asked the watchdog earlier this month to look into the VA and states’ roles in ensuring veterans get proper care at the homes.

4:45 p.m. update:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is warning of “massive confusion” after the state Supreme Court tossed out the Democrat’s stay-at-home order and Republicans said they may leave it up to local governments to enact their own rules for combating the coronavirus pandemic. The court order threw communities into chaos. Some bars opened immediately while local leaders in other areas moved to keep strict restrictions in place to prevent further spread of the virus. After a Thursday meeting with Evers, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said GOP lawmakers and the governor may not be able to reach agreement and that a statewide policy might not be needed.

3:25 p.m. update:

(AP)– Almost 75% of small businesses in a survey applied for help from a federal loan program designed to keep workers employed during the pandemic, but only 38% of small businesses received any money. A survey of small businesses released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau shows oil extraction and mining businesses had the best success in getting loans from the Paycheck Protection Program. More than half of businesses surveyed in that sector got some help. Just under half of small businesses in manufacturing and about 45% of small businesses in accommodations and food services received loans. Utilities fared the worst with less than a quarter of small businesses getting loans.

1:50 p.m. update:

CUSSETA, Ga. (AP) — Some school districts around the United States are calling an early end to the school year and pulling the plug on distance learning. Instruction is ending early for one of every 10 students in Georgia as well as other districts including Omaha, Nebraska, and Washington, D.C. Officials say distance learning has been too stressful, the lack of devices and internet access has been too much to overcome, and what students get from it just hasn’t been worth the struggle. Experts who study how learning slows in summer say reduced instruction could make things worse.

1 p.m. update

(CNN) — First, the good news: In 24 states, the number of new coronavirus cases reported each day is generally going down.

In 17 states, the numbers are holding steady, according to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. And in 9 states, the numbers of new cases are still rising.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to celebrate and take off face masks in public.

As states remove more stay-at-home restrictions, it will take weeks to learn the health effects.

A poll shows most Americans aren’t yet ready to return to their regular routines.

And a new study reveals the virus can be spread just by talking, and airborne particles can linger for eight minutes.

As of Thursday, more than 1.3 million people in the US have been infected with the coronavirus, and more than 84,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins.

12 p.m. update

WASHINGTON (AP) — Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright warned on Thursday that the U.S. lacks a plan to produce and fairly distribute a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. The nation could face “the darkest winter in modern history” unless leaders act decisively, he told a congressional panel.

Bright alleges he was ousted from a high-level scientific post after warning the Trump administration to prepare for the pandemic.

Testifying Thursday, Bright said, “We don’t have (a vaccine plan) yet, and it is a significant concern.” Asked if lawmakers should be worried, Bright responded, “absolutely.”

10:45 a.m. update

WASHINGTON (AP) — America faces the “darkest winter in modern history” unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound of the coronavirus, says a government whistleblower who alleges he was ousted from his job after warning the Trump administration to prepare for the pandemic.

Immunologist Dr. Rick Bright, wearing a protective mask, testified Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Aspects of his complaint about early administration handling of the crisis were expected to be backed up by testimony from an executive of a company that manufactures respirator masks.

A federal watchdog agency has found “reasonable grounds” that Bright was removed from his post as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority after sounding the alarm at the Department of Health and Human Services. Bright alleged he became a target of criticism when he urged early efforts to invest in vaccine development and stock up on supplies.

“Our window of opportunity is closing,” Bright said in his prepared testimony.. “If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities.”

8:45 a.m. update

(CNN) — Rep. Maxine Waters’ sister recently died from coronavirus, the California Democrat said Wednesday.

“While I’m sitting here, my sister’s viewing is going on today in St. Louis,” Waters said during a hearing of the House Oversight Committee’s new select coronavirus committee. “Many families have been touched, and so I’m hopeful that we can all get together, Democrats and Republicans, and deal with this pandemic.”

Waters initially confirmed the death of her sister, Velma Moody, 86, last week in an interview with TheGrio saying, “It is one of the most painful things that I’ve ever had to experience in my life.”

8:30 a.m. update

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is set to provide its latest update Thursday on the waves of layoffs that have caused tens of millions of workers to lose their jobs in a U.S. economy still paralyzed by business shutdowns.

The Labor Department will likely announce that millions more people filed for unemployment benefits last week, after 33 million sought aid in the previous seven weeks as the coronavirus forced employers across the country to close.

7 a.m. update

  • There have been 297,491 deaths around the world
  • There are 4,364,172 confirmed cases globally
  • There are about 1.42 million confirmed cases and 84,763 deaths in the U.S.
  • In Ohio, there are 25,721 confirmed cases and 1,483 deaths.

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Coronavirus resources

  • Click here for more about coronavirus and animals
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  • Click here for more on how COVID-19 spreads
  • The Ohio hotline for coronavirus questions is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH