What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
On a day of economic gloom, scientists offered a ray of hope: the first effective treatment against the coronavirus.
The U.S. government said it is working to make the antiviral medication remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible after a major study found it shortened the time it takes for COVID-19 patients to recover by four days on average — from 15 days to 11. The news came as the U.S. government reported that American output is shriveling at an alarming rate in the biggest and fastest collapse since the Depression.
Here are some of AP’s top stories Wednesday 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 U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate last quarter as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country and began triggering a recession that will end the longest expansion on record. Amid the economic fallout, the Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it will keep its key short-term interest rate near zero for the foreseeable future.
— President Donald Trump says the federal government’s coronavirus social distancing guidelines will be “fading out” when they expire on Thursday, counting on states taking charge as they move toward reopening.
— Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on Wednesday defended the use of an unproven drug on veterans for the coronavirus, insisting they were never used as “test subjects” but given the treatment only when medically appropriate.
— A surge in unemployment caused by the coronavirus shutdown has started to take a financial toll on state jobless funds. At least six states already have asked to borrow money from the federal government to pay unemployment claims because their state funds are expected to run out.
— Big meatpacking companies that have struggled to keep plants open during the coronavirus crisis say they welcome President Donald Trump’s executive order that plants must remain open. But unions, some employees and Democrats raised questions about whether workers could be kept safe.
— Uncertainty in planning for the coronavirus pandemic has left the globe dotted with dozens of barely used or unused temporary field hospitals. Some public officials say that’s a good problem to have.
— Romania’s Orthodox Church is criticizing a billboard campaign showing doctors dealing with the coronavirus as saints with halos shaped like the virus.
— Derek Jeter, Larry Walker and the rest of this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame class will have to wait for their big moment at Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that it has canceled the July 26 induction ceremony because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s class will be included at next year’s induction festivities.
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.
— 1,000: The number of coronavirus-related deaths in India, which has shelved a plan to give the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to thousands of people in Mumbai’s crowded slums to prevent coronavirus infections.
IN OTHER NEWS:
— BELGIAN BOOZE: A university research survey has found that alcohol consumption in Belgium is remaining mostly stable during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
— HURDLE INSPIRATION: Clint Hurdle began sending his daily notes of inspiration more than 10 years ago, during his days managing the Colorado Rockies. What used to be group text messages have turned into much more — every morning, his Daily Encouragement emails go out to some 5,000 eager recipients.