narvikk/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 263,000 people worldwide.Over 3.7 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.Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 73,431 deaths. Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:10:45 a.m.: Up to 190,000 people could die of COVID-19 in Africa if not controlled, WHO warnsA new study by the World Health Organization estimates that as many as 190,000 people in Africa could die from the novel coronavirus and up to 44 million could get infected in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail.The researchers behind the study, which is based on prediction modeling, looked at 47 African nations with a total population of 1 billion. The model projects the observed slower rate of transmission, lower age of people with severe disease and lower mortality rates compared to what is seen in the worst-affected countries in the rest of the world.The lower rate of transmission, however, suggests a more prolonged outbreak over a few years, according to the study.“While COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smolder in transmission hotspots,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement Thursday. “COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”The WHO warned that the predicted number of patients requiring hospitalization would seriously strain the available medical capacity in much of Africa. Containment measures, such physical distancing and frequent hand washing, aim to slow down the transmission of the virus so its impact happens at a rate manageable for the local health systems. Smaller African nations were at a high risk if containment measures are not prioritized, according to the study.“The importance of promoting effective containment measures is ever more crucial, as sustained and widespread transmission of the virus could severely overwhelm our health systems,” Moeti said. “Curbing a large-scale outbreak is far costlier than the ongoing preventive measures governments are undertaking to contain the spread of the virus.”9:21 a.m.: Company says experimental vaccine has been cleared by FDA for phase 2 trialBiotech company Moderna said Thursday that its experimental vaccine for the novel coronavirus has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to proceed to the next phase of a clinical trial.The vaccine, mRNA-1273, was the first COVID-19 vaccine candidate to be tested on humans in a clinical trail in the United States. Phase two of the study is “expected to begin shortly,” according to a press release from Moderna.The Massachusetts-based company said it is “finalizing protocol” for phase three of the study, which is expected to begin early this summer.ABC News has reached out to the FDA for comment.7:57 a.m.: McDonald’s employees will have ‘full recovery’ from shooting, CEO saysMcDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said the two employees who were shot at one of the fast-food chain’s locations in Oklahoma City are doing “OK” and will “have a full recovery.”A customer allegedly opened fire on the McDonald’s workers on Wednesday night after police say she became angry when she was told the restaurant’s dining room was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.“Obviously it’s a heinous crime, particularly because these two people were trying to really support public health,” Kempczinski told ABC News in an interview Thursday on Good Morning America.“I think what you’re seeing in this situation is really what you’re seeing in a variety of situations across the country, which is this tension about (re)opening,” he added. “But there’s absolutely no excuse for violence, particularly gun violence. So I’m just happy our people are going to be okay.”7:22 a.m.: Coronavirus death toll tops 20,000 in New York stateThe death toll from the novel coronavirus in New York state has surpassed 20,000.The northeastern U.S. state reported 952 new deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours. Health officials initially recorded just 232 new deaths during Wednesday but then added 720 more to the database overnight after being reclassified as attributable to COVID-19.The grim milestone comes just three weeks after New York state marked 10,000 deaths.There are now 323,978 people across the state who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 20,597 have died, according to health officials. A vast majority of those deaths — over 14,000 — occurred in New York City.6:50 a.m.: Poland postpones presidential election due to pandemicPoland has postponed its upcoming presidential election due to concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.The lower house of Polish parliament overturned the opposition-controlled Senate’s veto on legislation enabling a postal ballot to take place for electing the country’s next president. Although voting by mail will take place after all, the leaders of the coalition government agreed that the election will not be held this month as originally planned.A new date for the election, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday, will be decided at a later time.Nearly 15,000 people in Poland have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at least 737 have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.6:45 a.m.: Russia reports record daily rise in COVID-19 casesRussia saw a record daily rise in COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with 11,231 new infections reported over the past 24 hours.It’s the fifth day in a row that Russia has reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19. The latest daily tally shatters the country’s previous record of 10,633 new infections reported on Sunday, according to data released by Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.Russia now has the world’s second-fastest rate of new infections in the coronavirus pandemic, behind the United States.Russia has reported 165,929 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,625 deaths. The country’s mortality rate has remained relatively low with just 88 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.5:20 a.m.: China downgrades all areas to low-risk for COVID-19China has downgraded all areas of the world’s most populous country from high- to low-risk for the novel coronavirus.Mi Feng, a spokesperson for China’s National Health Commission, told a press conference in Beijing on Thursday that the decision was made as the number of new cases continues to hover just above zero and no new deaths have been reported for 22 consecutive days. However, Mi cautioned there is still uncertainty about the epidemic situation and that efforts must remain in place to prevent a resurgence of the virus, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.The National Health Commission said Thursday that just two new cases of COVID-19 had been reported on the Chinese mainland — both of which were imported from abroad.China was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. The first cases of infection were detected in the central city of Wuhan back in December. Since then, the Chinese mainland has reported 82,885 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,633 deaths. Currently, 295 people with the disease remain hospitalized, according to the National Health Commission.Some schools in China have begun gradually reopening and allowing pupils back into classrooms in recent weeks. Around 57,000 high school students returned to classrooms in Wuhan on Wednesday for the first time since the city — ground zero of the pandemic — was placed on lockdown on Jan. 23. All students must wear face masks and maintain social distancing. 4:06 a.m.: McDonald’s employees shot over coronavirus restrictions, police sayA 32-year-old woman allegedly opened fire on employees at a McDonald’s restaurant in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night after police say she became angry when she was told she couldn’t eat inside due to the coronavirus pandemic.First, the customer allegedly got into a physical altercation with a female employee at the McDonald’s that evening when she was informed that the restaurant’s dining room was closed because of social-distancing restrictions imposed to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. At some point during the altercation, the female employee fell and hit her head, according to Capt. Larry Withrow of the Oklahoma City Police Department.Then, after leaving the restaurant briefly, the customer allegedly returned with a handgun and fired multiple shots. One male employee was shot in the arm, while another male employee was hit in the neck and shoulder by what police described as bullet shrapnel. A third male employee suffered a wound in his side from bullet shrapnel, according to Withrow.The suspect fled the restaurant on foot and was arrested a few blocks away within minutes of the shooting. The woman, whose name hasn’t been released, is currently in police custody, Withrow told ABC News, adding that earlier reports indicating there were two suspects are erroneous.Three of the injured employees were taken to a local hospital for treatment, while the fourth was treated at the scene. All injuries were non-life-threatening, Withrow said.Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Skitt began reopening the state on April 24, with restrictions lifted on barbershops, nail salons, spas, elective surgeries and state parks. The governor allowed movie theaters, gyms and restaurants to reopen May 1. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.