What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
Thousands of new coronavirus infections are reported daily, many of them job-related, even as President Donald Trump urges people back to work.
There are plenty of new infections outside the workplace, including in nursing homes, and among retired and unemployed people. Yet all of the 15 U.S. counties with the highest per capita infection rates between April 28 and May 5 are homes to meatpacking and poultry-processing plants or state prisons, according to data compiled by The Associated Press.
There’s been a spike of new infections among construction workers in Austin, Texas, where that sector recently returned to work. Even the White House has proven vulnerable, with positive coronavirus tests for one of Trump’s valets and Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary.
Here are some of AP’s top stories Tuesday 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:
— Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is warning Congress that if the country reopens too soon during the coronavirus pandemic, it will bring “needless suffering and death.” Fauci is among the experts testifying before a Senate panel on Tuesday.
— As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, a new type of internet matchmaking is helping hospitals get scarce supplies. Numerous online platforms and charity projects have popped up to match hospitals in need with exchanges, loans or donations of personal protective equipment, ventilators and even doctors.
— Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the government will spend more than $260 billion, the equivalent of nearly 10% of the country’s GDP, on a coronavirus virus economic relief package designed to make the world’s second-most populous nation more self-reliant.
— For the first time, COVID-19 has been confirmed in a crowded civilian protection camp in South Sudan’s capital, a worrying development in a country that’s one of the world’s least prepared for the virus’s spread. The U.N. is aware that the health ministry and World Health Organization have confirmed the two cases in the camp in Juba, said Francesca Mold, a spokeswoman with the U.N. mission in South Sudan.
— The economic paralysis caused by the coronavirus led in April to the steepest month-to-month fall in U.S. consumer prices since the 2008 financial crisis — a 0.8% drop that was driven by a plunge in gasoline prices. And excluding the normally volatile categories of food and energy, so-called core prices tumbled 0.4% last month, the Labor Department said in its monthly report on consumer prices.
— Italian police have arrested 91 suspected mobsters in a probe of money-laundering and extortion in a bid to thwart Sicily’s Cosa Nostra from exploiting economic woes triggered by the pandemic. Hundreds of Financial Guard police officers fanned out Tuesday through Palermo, the alleged crime clan’s power base, as well as in several regions in northern Italy.
— Tesla CEO Elon Musk is restarting its California factory in defiance of local government efforts to contain the coronavirus. In a tweet Monday, Musk practically dared authorities to arrest him, writing that he would be on the assembly line and if anyone is taken into custody, it should be him.
— The U.S. government is donating up to 1,000 ventilators to South Africa to help the country respond to COVID-19, according to the U.S. Embassy, as the Trump administration addresses criticism that it hasn’t done enough for countries in need. The U.S. says it soon will make similar donations to countries around the world.
— India is reopening some of its huge rail network as it looks at easing its nearly seven-week strict lockdown despite a continuing rise in coronavirus infections. Special trains are departing from several large cities including New Delhi and Mumbai. Passengers must pass a thermal screening and maintain social distancing.
— Oprah Winfrey, who visited arenas last year on a wellness tour, is bringing the idea to living rooms while people are homebound due to the coronavirus pandemic. The media mogul announced “Oprah’s Your Life in Focus: A Vision Forward — Live Virtual Experience,” a free and interactive four-week event that is an extension of her wellness tour with Weight Watchers Reimagined.
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.
— 5: A fire at St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg has killed five coronavirus patients. Russian emergency officials say all five had been put on ventilators. Russia has reported more than 220,000 confirmed cases, and 2,009 deaths — but international health experts say those numbers undercount the country’s outbreak.
IN OTHER NEWS:
— RECLINER DJs: Retirees in multiple states have become volunteer DJs for a new online radio hour known as “Radio Recliner.” The 60-minute show began airing last month, starting with retirees in middle Tennessee, recording from their recliners while quarantined.
— HOME OFFICES TO STAY: When workers around the world eventually return to their desks, they’ll find many changes due to the pandemic. For a start, fewer people will go back to their offices as the coronavirus crisis makes working from home more accepted, health concerns linger and companies weigh rent savings and productivity benefits.
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak