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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

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Federal officials waited to order medical supplies until stocks in the U.S. were running critically low as the new coronavirus spread across the country

Federal officials waited to order medical supplies until stocks in the U.S. were running critically low as the new coronavirus spread across the country. A review of federal purchasing contracts by The Associated Press shows federal agencies waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment urgently needed by front-line health care workers.

Queen Elizabeth II appealed to Britons to exercise self-discipline in “an increasingly challenging time” as the country saw a record 24-hour jump in coronavirus deaths.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned Americans that this week is going to be “the hardest and the saddest” since the coronavirus struck the country.

Europe’s hardest-hit country is finally seeing a sign of hope: Italy’s daily death toll was at its lowest in more than two weeks and health officials noted with caution Sunday that the infection curve was finally descending.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Sunday on the 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:

— Home testing for the new coronavirus may sound like a good idea, but U.S. regulators say it’s still too risky.

— Historic failures in government responses to disasters and emergencies, medical abuse, neglect and exploitation have jaded generations of African Americans into a distrust of public institutions.

— New York funeral homes are struggling as deaths from the coronavirus surge.

— Falling investment in public health in prior years is now being felt acutely as the coronavirus crisis worsens. One study shows that between 2008 and 2017, state and local health departments lost more than 55,000 jobs — a major factor as cities struggle to respond to COVID-19.

— The traditional Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem was scaled back.

— Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says there is a very good chance the new coronavirus “will assume a seasonal nature,” meaning the U.S. could see the “beginning of a resurgence” during the next flu season.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as a 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.

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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ONE NUMBER:

— ONE: Officials in South Sudan say the country has its first case of COVID-19, making it the 51st of Africa’s 54 countries where the disease has appeared.

IN OTHER NEWS:

— SIDEWALK SMILES: Workers at New Orleans’ Ochsner Medical Center who take the familiar stroll from the parking lot to the main entrance have been greeted with sidewalk sketches from an anonymous artist.

— TRAINS TO THE RESCUE: France is using its speedy trains to shuttle patients to less-strained hospitals and medics to virus zones in need.

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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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