By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 544,000 people worldwide.

Over 11.8 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 2.9 million diagnosed cases and at least 131,480 deaths.

Here is how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:

5:04 a.m.: Over a dozen contract coronavirus after high school graduation

More than a dozen people who attended a high school graduation in North Carolina have reportedly contracted the novel coronavirus.

Officials have identified at least 16 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after attending Marvin Ridge High School’s graduation ceremony on June 24 in Waxhaw, North Carolina, according to a report by Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV. While some of those people may have been together at other events, officials said, the only common link they all share is the graduation.

Officials said anyone who attended the ceremony “needs to take additional precautions when interacting with individuals from our vulnerable population,” and to get tested if they or someone in their home develops symptoms.

Board members of the Union County Public Schools had voted in late May to hold in-person graduation ceremonies while practicing social distancing, despite an order from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper that prohibits them. The Union County Sheriff’s Office said they wouldn’t interfere with the plans to carry out traditional graduations.

“As Union County Public Schools held graduations, the district provided clear health and safety guidance for graduates and their guests,” Union County Public Schools told WSOC in a statement Tuesday. “Ceremonies included social distancing protocols, and staff encouraged all attendees to wear face coverings. In addition, hand sanitizer or hand washing stations were available at each stadium.”

3:30 a.m.: US sets another record with over 60,000 new cases in a day

More than 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

It’s the first time the United States has reached or crossed the 60,000 threshold of newly diagnosed cases in a 24-hour reporting period.

Tuesday’s caseload shattered the country’s previous record set on July 2, when more than 54,000 new cases were identified.

The national total currently stands at 2,996,098 diagnosed cases with at least 131,480 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.

By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 50,000 for the first time last week.

Many states have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks, with some — including Arizona, California and Florida — reporting daily records.

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