What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

  • A view of La Boqueria market Thursday in downtown Barcelona, Spain. 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.

    A view of La Boqueria market Thursday in downtown Barcelona, Spain. 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. Associated Press

 
By Associated Press
Updated 3/27/2020 3:26 PM

The U.S. House on Friday approved a $2.2 trillion rescue package, rushing it to President Donald Trump for his signature. The measure tosses a life preserver to a U.S. economy and health care system left flailing by the coronavirus pandemic.

America's coronavirus infections have surged to the most in the world. Italy has shut down its industry. Masses of unemployed Indian laborers got food handouts and South Africa began a three-week lockdown. The U.S. cities of Chicago and Detroit saw increases in infections.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Here are some of AP's top stories Friday 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:

-- For the millions of Americans living under some form of lockdown, not knowing when the restrictions will end is also causing sharp anxiety. Will important life events be delayed for a few weeks, a few months or much longer?

-- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but remains in charge of the U.K.'s response to the outbreak. Johnson, 55, said Friday that he was tested for COVID-19 on the advice of the chief medical officer after showing "mild symptoms" involving a temperature and a persistent cough.

-- Some leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough: Simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus. But scientists have challenged their accuracy.

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-- Los Angeles recorded its first case of coronavirus five weeks before New York City, yet New York is now the U.S. epicenter of the disease. Public health officials are keeping a wary eye and warning that LA could end up being as hard-hit as New York in coming weeks, in part because a planned increase in testing may uncover a dramatic surge in cases.

-- The Vatican says Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Week ceremonies in the confines of Vatican City, including a Good Friday Way of the Cross service on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica instead of at Rome's Colosseum as is customary.

-- Are gun shops "essential" businesses during a pandemic? Americans in areas of stay-at-home directives are mixed on whether gun shops should remain open. That's led some gun rights advocates to worry about an erosion of Second Amendment rights. Americans are buying firearms in record numbers.

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.

IN OTHER NEWS:

TAKEOUT REIMAGINED: Across the United States, restaurateurs are transforming operations to try to stay afloat. Some are even giving away a roll of coveted toilet paper with takeout orders. The National Restaurant Association warns the outbreak could cost 5 million to 7 million jobs and hundreds of billions in losses and is pushing for a special federal relief package for restaurants.

BEAT GOES ON: Locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the nightclubs in the German capital have decided to keep the beat going -- at least online. Berlin's nightclubs were closed on March 13 to help slow the spread of the virus. In response, some formed a streaming platform to let DJs, musicians and artists keep performing.

NOT A PEEP: No more Peeps are being hatched for at least a couple of weeks -- but it shouldn't affect Easter baskets. The Just Born confections company in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, says its production facilities there and in Philadelphia have closed through April 7. But the company says it had already produced and shipped the Easter supply of its signature marshmallow confection to outlets.

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

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