What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
The Chinese city at the heart of the global pandemic, Wuhan, reopened Wednesday after 76 days in lockdown. Elsewhere, the economic, political and psychological toll of fighting the new coronavirus grew increasingly clear and more difficult to bear.
New York endured one of its darkest days so far, with the virus death toll surging past the number killed on 9/11. It recorded 731 new coronavirus deaths, its biggest one-day jump yet, for a statewide toll of nearly 5,500.
And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care with the coronavirus but is improving and sitting up in bed, a senior government minister said Wednesday, as the U.K. recorded its biggest spike in COVID-19 deaths to date.
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:
— Even as coronavirus deaths mount across Europe, New York and other hot spots, the U.S. and other governments are beginning to envision an exit strategy and contemplating a staggered and carefully calibrated relaxation of the restrictions designed to curb the scourge. At the same time, politicians and health officials emphatically warn that the crisis is far from over, and a catastrophic second wave could hit if countries let their guard down too soon.
— U.S. researchers have opened another safety test of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this one using a skin-deep shot instead of the usual deeper jab. A different vaccine candidate began safety testing in people last month in Seattle.
— As health officials around the world push to get more ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, some doctors are moving away from using the breathing machines when they can. The reason: Some hospitals have reported unusually high death rates for coronavirus patients on ventilators, and some doctors worry that the machines could be harming certain patients.
— In a heartfelt plea for unity, the World Health Organization’s chief sought to rise above sharp criticism and threats of funding cuts from U.S. President Donald Trump over the agency’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The vocal defense from the WHO Director-General came a day after Trump blasted the U.N. agency for being “China-centric.”
— The coronavirus is proving particularly devastating to black Americans. Of the victims whose demographic data was publicly shared by officials — nearly 3,300 of the nation’s 13,000 deaths thus far — about 42% were black, according to an Associated Press analysis. African Americans account for roughly 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the analysis.
— Even as parishioners, followers and the faithful seek solace and strength from religious leaders in a time of pandemic, the list of those who have died includes more and more clergymen and women. The dreaded daily uptick is reflected worldwide as spiritual leaders in the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. are among the casualties.
AP FACT CHECK:
— President Donald Trump offered a rosy portrait of a smoothly running federal emergency lending program for small businesses that doesn’t match reality and revised history again on how seriously he took the coronavirus threat, suggesting he likened it to a pandemic flu. He never did.
Have tips for the AP Fact Check team? Contact FactCheck@ap.org
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.
— 76: Wuhan was released from a 76-day coronavirus lockdown on Wednesday, and it’s as if the Chinese city where the pandemic started late last year has awakened from a long slumber.
— PET THERAPY: Pets are proving to be unexpected heroes in lockdown. People have flooded shelters, looking for pets to fill their extra hours at home.
— BIPARTISAN UNITY: Louisiana’s Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry is pledging to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in a jaw-dropping truce in a state known for cantankerous politics.
— SAMBA SCHOOLS: Rio de Janeiro’s samba schools usually spend the year furiously sewing costumes for the city’s blowout Carnival celebration. Now, they’re making medical outfits for hospital workers who face a surge of coronavirus patients.