What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

The House has approved a nearly $500 billion infusion of coronavirus spending, as unemployment in the U.S. is swelling to levels last seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Anchoring the bill is the Trump administration’s $250 billion funding request to replenish a fund to help small- and medium-size businesses with payroll, rent and other expenses. It also contains $100 billion demanded by Democrats for hospitals and a nationwide testing program.

More than 4.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. In all, roughly 26 million people — the population of the 10 biggest U.S. cities combined — have now filed for jobless aid in five weeks.

Abroad, there was mixed news about the epidemic. Some countries, including Greece, Bangladesh and Malaysia, announced extensions of their lockdowns. Vietnam, New Zealand and Croatia were among those moving to end or ease such measures. Brazil’s health ministry confirmed 407 deaths due to the outbreak in the last 24 hours, a daily high for the country.

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:

— Testing of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine began in healthy volunteers in Britain Thursday, the latest in a cluster of early-stage studies in search of protection against the coronavirus. University of Oxford researchers gave injections to volunteers in a study that eventually aims to include hundreds in hopes of determining not only if the vaccine is safe but if it works.

— 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.

— Conspiracy theorists are twisting facts online about country singer Joe Diffie’s death from COVID-19 complications in an effort to promote their claims that health officials are exaggerating the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Diffie, who topped the charts in the 1990s with honky-tonk singles including “Home” and “Pickup Man,” died in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 29 after he tested positive for the virus. He was 61.

— There’s no evidence pets are spreading the new coronavirus to people. However, there have been a few cases worldwide where animals likely got the virus from humans, according to federal officials. A 4-year-old tiger tested positive at New York City’s Bronx Zoo, and officials think a zookeeper with the virus got the feline sick. Two house cats in different homes in New York have also contracted the virus, likely from their owners or someone in the neighborhood.

— More evidence is emerging that far more New Yorkers have had the coronavirus than the number confirmed by lab tests. A state survey of about 3,000 people found that nearly 14% had antibodies, suggesting they had been exposed to the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. In New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., 21% of the people tested had antibodies. Cuomo cautioned that the data was preliminary.

— The Rolling Stones have unveiled a new song the band thinks is perfect for these times. The band released the four-minute, slow-burning, bluesy and harmonica-driven “Living in a Ghost Town” on Thursday. “I’m a ghost/Living in a ghost town/You can look for me/But I can’t be found,” sings frontman Mick Jagger, who wrote the song with guitarist Keith Richards.

— After two months and more than 10,000 deaths that have made the nation’s nursing homes some of the most terrifying places to be during the coronavirus crisis, most of them still don’t have access to enough tests to help control outbreaks among their frail, elderly residents. Neither the federal government nor the leader in nursing home deaths, New York, has mandated testing for all residents and staff.

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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: Unemployment in the U.S. has swelled to levels last seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s, with 1 in 6 American workers — or roughly 26 million — thrown out of a job by the coronavirus.

IN OTHER NEWS:

— JUSTIN HERBERT: Like every other NFL draft prospect, Oregon QB Justin Herbert scrambled when the coronavirus outbreak forced school closures and stay-at-home restrictions across the country. He prepared for the draft using his brothers as spotters and route runners.

— STUDENTS’ MASKS: A private school student in the nation’s capital wanted to find a way to pitch in during the coronavirus pandemic. Georgetown Day School senior Jonah Docter-Loeb’s efforts led to Print to Protect, which has printed 3,000 face shields and hopes to complete 10,000 in April.

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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