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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

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America’s coronavirus infections have surged to the most in the world, and has Italy shut down its industry

America’s coronavirus infections have surged to the most in the world. Italy shut down its industry. Masses of unemployed Indian laborers got food handouts and South Africa began a three-week lockdown. The U.S. cities of Chicago and Detroit saw concerning increases in infections.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Friday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:

— Plans for swift action on a $2.2 trillion package to ease the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating toll on the U.S. economy and health care system ran into complications Friday as a maverick conservative member of the House threatened to delay passage until most lawmakers return to Washington for a vote. Party leaders had hoped to pass the measure by voice vote without lawmakers having to take the risk of traveling to Washington.

— For the millions of Americans living under some form of lockdown, it’s the not knowing when the restrictions will end which is also causing sharp anxiety. Will important life events be delayed for a few weeks, a few months or much longer?

— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but remains in charge of the U.K.’s response to the outbreak. Johnson, 55, said Friday that he was tested for COVID-19 on the advice of the chief medical officer after showing “mild symptoms” involving a temperature and a persistent cough.

— Some leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough: Simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus. But scientists have challenged their accuracy.

— Advocates and prison guards are calling for reforms to head off a potential outbreak in the federal prison system, which has been plagued for years by violence, misconduct and staffing shortages.

— Are gun shops ‘essential’ businesses during a pandemic? Americans in areas of stay-at-home directives are mixed on whether gun shops are an essential business and should remain open. That’s led some gun rights advocates to worry about an erosion of Second Amendment rights. Americans are buying firearms in record numbers.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Here are the symptoms of the virus compared with the common flu.

One of the best ways to prevent spread of the virus is washing your hands with soap and water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first washing with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under fingernails before rinsing off.

You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how.

Misinformation overload: How to separate fact from fiction and rumor from deliberate efforts to mislead.

TRACKING THE VIRUS: Drill down and zoom in at the individual county level, and you can access numbers that will show you the situation where you are, and where loved ones or people you’re worried about live.

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INSIDE THE OUTBREAK PODCAST: The Senate approved a massive $2.2 trillion rescue package to help revive the American economy. In the latest episode of “Ground Game: Inside the Outbreak,” AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace and host Ralph Russo discuss what this all means.

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IN OTHER NEWS:

BEAT GOES ON: Locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the nightclubs in the German capital have decided to keep the beat going — at least online. Berlin’s nightclubs were closed March 13 to help slow the spread of the virus. In response, some formed a streaming platform to let DJs, musicians and artists keep performing.

NOT A PEEP: No more Peeps are being hatched for at least a couple of weeks — but it shouldn’t affect Easter baskets. The Just Born confections company in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, says its production facilities there and in Philadelphia have closed through April 7. But the company says it had already produced and shipped the Easter supply of its signature marshmallow confection to outlets.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak


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