Coronavirus:

What You Need To Know

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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
Photo Credit: Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP
In this photograph taken from behind a window, doctors work on a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit of San Matteo Hospital, in Pavia, northern Italy, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The San Matteo hospital is where Patient 1, a 38-year-old Unilever worker named Mattia, was kept since he tested positive for Covid-19 on Feb. 21 and opened Italy’s health care crisis. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

The number of people around the world who have contracted the coronavirus has surged past 500,000, and the United States tops the list, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

U.S. deaths have now topped 1,200, in another grim update for a global outbreak that has wreaked havoc on economies and established routines of life. Worldwide, the death toll climbed past 23,000, according to Johns Hopkins' running count.

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — almost five times the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread shutdown caused by the virus. The surge in weekly applications is a reflection of the damage the outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Layoffs are sure to accelerate as revenue collapses at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told leaders of the world’s 20 major industrialized nations during an emergency virtual summit that "we are at war with a virus — and not winning it” despite countries' dramatic measures to seal their borders, shutter businesses and enforce home isolation for well over a quarter of the world's population.

Here are some of AP's top stories Thursday 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:

—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress will give final approval Friday to the $2.2 trillion economic rescue bill, a vote that would cap Congress’ tumultuous effort to rush the relief to a nation battered by the coronavirus. Stocks marched higher for a third straight day Friday as the bill moved closer to passage.

—At New York City-area hospitals on the front lines of the biggest concentration of coronavirus cases in the U.S., workers are increasingly concerned about the ravages of the illness in their own ranks. Louisiana, home to the world-famous pre-Lenten Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans each spring, was quickly becoming another smoldering hotspot.

—The coronavirus is taking a growing toll on the U.S. military, and commanders and senior officials are bracing for worse. From nuclear missile fields at home to war zones abroad, from flight lines to ships at sea, the Pentagon is striving to shield vital missions even as it faces urgent calls for help on the civilian front.

—China is temporarily barring most foreigners from entering the country as it seeks to curb the number of imported coronavirus cases. In India, some of the country's legions of poor and others thrown out of work by a nationwide stay-at-home order began receiving aid from public and private groups working to ensure people have enough to eat.

—The Trump administration is sticking with its crowd-friendly waiver of entrance fees at national parks during the coronavirus pandemic, as managers at some parks try and fail to keep visitors a safe distance apart and communities appeal for a shutdown at the parks still open. The administration agreed last week to close some parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains, after requests from the park managers.

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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.

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ONE NUMBER:

$2.7 billion: Estimated cost of postponing the Tokyo Olympics, according to the Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei. The Tokyo Olympics need new dates for the opening and closing ceremonies in 2021. Nothing much can get done until those dates are determined by the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and Tokyo organizers.

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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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News

  • President Donald Trump signed the largest relief package in U.S. history on Friday afternoon, paving the way for $2 trillion to be injected into an economy stunted by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The bill will bolster unemployment insurance and pour money into businesses, health-care providers and state and local governments. In addition, some 80 percent of U.S. adults will see stimulus checks of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples. The federal government will also include $500 for each child or dependent. How much will you get and how is it determined? Here’s a look at the plan. Note: The amount the check will be is be based on your 2019 tax return if it has been filed, or your 2018 tax return if you have not yet filed this year. Those filing income tax returns as “single” with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 a year will be eligible for a $1,200 check. The payment amount drops by $5 for every $100 in income above $75,000. Those who file as “married filing jointly” can receive a check for $2,400 check if their adjusted gross income was below $150,000. Married couples will get checks on a sliding scale up to $198,000. Married couples will also receive $500 for each child they claimed on their tax return. If you filed as “head of household” you are eligible for a $1,200 check and $500 for each child you claimed if your adjusted gross income was $112,500 or less. You can receive a check on a sliding scale if you earn up to $136,500 annually. Those who file “head of household” are typically single parents). If you receive a Social Security check and do not exceed the income limits above, you are eligible to receive the coronavirus relief check. If you receive a Social Security check and do not make enough money to require you to file a tax return, you will still receive a check as long as you received an SSA-1099 form. The form is sent annually and includes your Social Security benefits statement. The check will be delivered to you via the usual way you get your Social Security payment. People who receive disability checks from Social Security are eligible for the special payment. Where are the checks sent? If you have filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, the Internal Revenue Service will send the check to the bank account number you used for the direct deposit information included on that return. Or, if you did not include direct deposit information on your tax form, the IRS will mail the check to you at the address you included on your tax form. If you did not file a 2019 tax return yet, the IRS will check to see if you filed a 2018 return and use that information to send your check. If you get a Social Security check, the IRS will deliver the stimulus check in the same way you get your Social Security check each month. Will taxes be taken out of the check? No, the checks will not be taxed. Whatever amount you qualify for, you will receive that amount. When will I get it? Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin has said the checks are scheduled to begin being distributed on April 6, though that is not a set date. How can I find out how much I will get? The IRS has created a webpage for information about the checks, but much of the information has not been posted. The Washington Post created this calculator to help you estimate the amount you will receive. You can answer a couple of questions and the calculator will estimate the amount you will likely receive.
  • At least 722,000 people worldwide – including more than 142,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Monday, March 30, continue below: Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for 2021 Update 8:15 a.m. EDT March 30: Organizers announced Monday that the Tokyo Olympics, which had been set to take place over the summer, have been rescheduled for 2021. Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year. “The schedule for the games is key to preparing for the games,' Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said. “This will only accelerate our progress.” Adviser to British PM Boris Johnson experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolating Update 7:26 a.m. EDT March 30: Just days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he tested positive for coronavirus, one of his chief advisers is experiencing symptoms and has decided to self-isolate. According to The Associated Press, Dominic Cummings said he started feeling sick over the weekend and has been staying at home. Meanwhile, Johnson took to Twitter on Monday morning to say he’s “been working from home and continuing to lead the government’s response to coronavirus.' >> See the tweet here FDA issues ‘emergency use authorization’ of anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus treatment Update 6:45 a.m. EDT March 30: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an “emergency use authorization' to allow two anti-malaria drugs donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to possibly be used to treat coronavirus patients, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in a news release Sunday. HHS said it “accepted 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated by Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, and 1 million doses of chloroquine phosphate donated by Bayer Pharmaceuticals' on Sunday. The authorization allows the donated drugs “to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible,” the release said. In addition, the authorization “requires that fact sheets that provide important information about using chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and patients, including the known risks and drug interactions,” according to the FDA’s website. Read more here or here. New York City to fine people who violate social-distancing rules Update 5:20 a.m. EDT March 30: New York City will fine those who fail to follow social-distancing guidelines, officials said. According to WPIX-TV, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the news in a Sunday news conference. “We’re going to give people every chance to listen, and if anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point,” he said, adding that people could face fines of $250 to $500 if they continue to violate the rules after receiving a warning from police. The city has already shut down nonessential businesses and instructed to residents to stay inside when possible, WPIX reported. Budget airline EasyJet grounds entire fleet Update 4:32 a.m. EDT March 30: British airline EasyJet announced that it is grounding all of its 344 planes amid the coronavirus pandemic, ITV is reporting. According to CNN, the budget carrier’s decision takes effect Monday. “At this stage, there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights,” the Luton-based airline said in a statement. The carrier tweeted Monday that entitlements for customers whose flights were canceled “are available for up to a year after your flight was originally due to depart.” >> See the tweets here 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' songwriter Alan Merrill dies of complications from virus Update 3:23 a.m. EDT March 30: Alan Merrill, best known for writing the hit song “I Love Rock 'n' Roll,” died Sunday morning after experiencing coronavirus complications. He was 69. According to USA Today, Merrill’s daughter, Laura, said in a Facebook post that her father died at a New York City hospital. “I was given two minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out,” she wrote of Merrill, who also was a guitarist and vocalist. “He seemed peaceful, and as I left, there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right-hand side of the CNN/Fox News screen.” She said she walked home and received the news of his death by the time she reached her apartment. “I’ve made a million jokes about the ‘Rona’ and how it’ll ‘getcha’ ... boy, do I feel stupid,” she continued. “If anything can come of this, I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn’t matter. People are dying. You don’t think it’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has.” >> See the post here ″I Love Rock 'n' Roll' was originally released by the Arrows, a band Merrill was part of, in 1975, according to “Entertainment Tonight.” Seven years later, rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts released a version of the song, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the outlet reported. Jett took to Twitter to pay tribute to Merrill on Sunday, sending “thoughts and love” to his loved ones and the music community. “I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me,” Jett wrote. “With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.” >> See the tweet here News of Merrill’s death came the same day that country music star Joe Diffie died from the virus, “ET” reported. Costco to temporarily change store hours Update 1:31 a.m. EDT March 30: In an effort to help protect its customers, Costco announced it will temporarily implement new weekday closing hours for its locations nationwide. Beginning Monday, all its warehouses will close at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and its gas stations will close at 7 p.m. However, it said some specific locations’ hours would be different. The wholesale giant said its weekend hours would remain the same. For its members ages 60 and older and those with physical impairments, Costco has special operating hours from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Costco said it has made some temporary department changes to create more space for social distancing and is following CDC recommendations to minimize risk to its members and employees. U.S. cases soar past 142,000, including more than 2,500 deaths Update 12:39 a.m. EDT March 30: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 142,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands early Sunday. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 142,502 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 2,506 deaths. Worldwide, there are 722,435 confirmed cases and 33,997 deaths from the virus. U.S. cases outnumber those in any other nation, including the 97,689 reported in Italy and the 82,149 confirmed in China. Of the confirmed deaths, 966 have occurred in New York, 200 in Washington state, 161 in New Jersey and 151 in Louisiana. In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit with at least 59,746 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 13,386, California with 6,284 and Michigan with 5,488. Four other states have each confirmed at least 4,000 novel coronavirus cases, including: • Massachusetts: 4,955, including 48 deaths • Florida: 4,950, including 60 deaths • Illinois: 4,596, including 66 deaths • Washington: 4,493, including 200 deaths Meanwhile, Louisiana and Pennsylvania have confirmed at least 3,000 novel coronavirus infections each, while Texas, Georgia and Colorado have confirmed at least 2,000 cases each.
  • A Florida man is facing several charges after he told a deputy he tested positive for COVID-19 and coughed toward the deputy, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies said Christian Perez, 23, was taken into custody after he was stopped for reckless driving. Perez reportedly told deputies he had COVID-19, so deputies provided him with a protective mask to cover his mouth. Deputies said at one point, Perez removed the mask and began intentionally coughing toward a deputy. The deputy got the mask back on Perez’s mouth to reduce the risk of contamination, officials said. Deputies said Perez was charged with driving under the influence, driving without a license, assault on a deputy and threatening a public servant. Sheriff William Snyder said men and women of law enforcement encounter enough dangers daily without actions like this. “We have zero tolerance for this despicable behavior, and anyone who threatens the health and lives of my deputies will face the maximum charges,' Snyder said.
  • A metro Atlanta housekeeper says her services are more in demand now that coronavirus has hit. Four years after launching her business, Teresa Goodman tells WSB that her housekeeping appointments are way up.  'Mine have doubled or tripled,' says Goodman. 'I have clients, I only go to them like once a month. But when the coronavirus came in, I go once a week.'  She says homeowners, anxious over the bug, want to make sure their houses stay healthy.  'Everyone wants their home clean and sanitized, so really it picked up for me,' Goodman says. She has begun carrying an additional DIY alcohol-based disinfectant that she begins using on the doorknob as soon as she steps up to a client's door. Frequently-grabbed places like closets, appliance handles, and drawer pulls get the spritz, too.  Homeowners like to see Goodman clean and disinfect the rooms where they hang out the most, and the items they touch the most.  'Telephones, TV remotes, the arm of the chairs, computers, faucets,' she explains.   Goodman admits that she was a bit nervous at first to keep going into clients' homes amid the viral concerns, but says the job is essential to her family.  'I am, but it's a business. You got to do what you've got to do for your family. I just stay prayed up,' says Goodman, who adds that the job is important to her clients.  'They trust me to do a good job,' she says. Goodman changes gloves in between one room and the next, and noted that her attention to detail and even her products have led to smiles.  'A neighbor came over and said, 'You know that Lysol you've got is worth more than gold now!' We just laughed, laughed, laughed. I said, 'You're right.''  She hopes the new handwashing and extra-cleanliness habits people are forming stick with us post- pandemic.  'Don't wait until after the coronavirus,' says Goodman. 'Say they say it leaves or whatever, you want to stop. Wrong thing. Keep doing what you're doing. Just keep your house sanitized--or call me. And I'll come do it for you.
  • A metro Atlanta emergency room doctor is doing what he can to keep himself and those he works with safe from COVID 19.  Dr. Mehrdod Ehteshami has already had to treat patients with the virus and is worried the limited supply of personal protection equipment will soon run out. So, he’s taken a MacGyver approach to keeping his N95 mask functional as long as possible.  “I actually went to a home improvement store and bought some air filters that apparently are able to block against viruses down to .3 microns, which is about what I need for the COVID 19,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Ehteshami then cuts the filter in the shape of the cartridge inside the mask and replaces it.  He says it’s what he will be using in the event the masks at the hospital where he works runs out.  “We still have, at my hospital, N95s but we are definitely dwindling,” says Ehteshami.  He has a group of friends who are also making fabric masks with pockets where the filter can be placed with the goal of having enough for his staff too.  And Ehteshami is not stopping there when it comes to shortages of other PPE.  “I can reuse my goggles by just cleaning them with the 60 percent alcohol wipes that we have left,” he says, adding, “The PPE with the gowns and gloves and shoe covers are more of a problem. We’re just doing the best we can. We’re not out yet… but I’m trying to think about how to fix that problem as well.”
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida charged 50-year-old David White with using a hoax weapon of mass destruction after he sprayed a substance labeled “COVID-19” on the doors and entrance of a Jacksonville business, deputies said. JSO said White told employees and patrons of the business they were now infected with coronavirus after he sprayed the substance. JSO’s Intelligence Unit and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the incident and identified White as the suspect. The business took precautionary measures to sanitize the area where White sprayed the substance.