What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

The coronavirus is cutting off the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims from their cherished Ramadan traditions. It has also taken a heavy toll on Veterans Affairs health care workers. White House officials believe they’ve entered a new chapter of the pandemic response. Meanwhile, another 4.4 million laid-off workers filed for unemployment. Plus, meet the nurse who took care of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chicago Cubs’ teammates living in “The Compound.”

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:

__The coronavirus pandemic is cutting off the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims from their cherished Ramadan traditions as health officials battle to ward off new infections during Islam’s holiest month. Ramadan, a month of daytime fasting, overnight festivity and communal prayer and giving, begins with the new moon this week.

— As President Donald Trump aims for a swift nationwide reopening, he faces a new challenge: convincing people it’s safe to come out and resume their normal lives. It’s a defining question for a cloistered nation — and a political imperative for Trump, whose reelection likely rides on the pace of an economic rebound.

— Heather Espinal is one of 1,900 Veterans Affairs health care workers who have become sick with the coronavirus, according to agency documents obtained by The Associated Press. Twenty have died. Another 3,600 of the 300,000-plus VA health care employees are quarantined and unable to work because they have been exposed to the virus, according to VA figures.

— Daily reports of giant meat-processing plants closing because workers tested positive for the coronavirus have called into question whether slaughterhouses can remain virus-free. According to experts, the answer may be no.

— Europe’s economies are heading for unprecedented recessions as a result of the lockdown measures put in place by governments to get a grip on the coronavirus pandemic, according to surveys.

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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.

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:

— 26 Million: More than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, raising the total over the past five weeks to roughly 26 million.

IN OTHER NEWS:

— THE COMPOUND: When the coronavirus pandemic stopped spring training last month, Ian Happ offered Nico Hoerner, Zack Short and Dakota Mekkes a place to stay if they wanted to remain in Arizona. That’s how “The Compound” was born.

— NURSE JENNY: Nurse Jenny from New Zealand says that helping save somebody as notable as Boris Johnson in his battle with the coronavirus didn’t faze her thanks to her years of dealing with stressful situations in intensive care wards.

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

Categories: National & International News