What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
Public health officials are warning Americans to follow social distancing and other measures that aim to stop the spread of the coronavirus as they head into the long Memorial Day weekend with millions of others emerging from lockdowns to celebrate the holiday at beaches and cookouts.
At the same time, President Donald Trump said Friday he has deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential” and called on governors across the country to allow them to reopen this weekend.
The three-day weekend begins even as the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating across Latin America, Russia, India and Pakistan. So far, number of cases are flattening elsewhere as businesses start to reopen in much of Europe, Asia and the United States.
India saw its biggest single-day spike since the pandemic began, and Pakistan and Russia recorded their highest death tolls. Even so, many governments say they need to shift their focus to saving jobs.
In the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, the unemployment numbers are staggering. The Federal Reserve chairman has estimated that 25% of Americans could be jobless by June, while in China analysts estimate about a third of the urban workforce is unemployed.
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:
— New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio released new guidelines to help determine when to loosen restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it will be up to the state to make those decisions.
— British researchers testing an experimental vaccine against COVID-19 are advancing to the next phase and hope to immunize more than 10,000 people. The announcement comes as Chinese scientists report encouraging signs from first-step safety tests of a similar possible vaccine.
— A new World Health Organization report says the coronavirus pandemic is interrupting immunization against diseases that could put the lives of nearly 80 million infants at risk. Health officials say more than half of 129 countries where immunization data were available reported suspensions of vaccinations against measles, polio and cholera, among others.
— The coronavirus is certain to put a damper on one of the biggest Muslim holidays of the year set to begin this weekend. People usually celebrate the three-day Eid al-Fitr by traveling, visiting family and gathering for lavish meals — all of which will be largely prohibited as authorities try to prevent new outbreaks. The holiday marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
— The leader of Tanzania says his country has defeated the coronavirus through prayer. Meanwhile, the international community openly worries that President John Magufuli is hiding the pandemic’s true scale.
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.
— 4,300: An Associated Press report shows that more than 4,300 recovering coronavirus patients were sent to New York’s already vulnerable nursing homes under a controversial state directive that was ultimately scrapped. The March 25 order requiring nursing homes to take recovering COVID-19 patients from hospitals has become a thorny political issue for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who abruptly reversed the policy May 10. New York leads the nation in nursing home deaths with about 5,700.
IN OTHER NEWS:
— SPACE DEBATE: NASA is urging people to stay home next week for the first astronaut launch from Florida in nine years. The worry is that packing the beaches and roads may not be safe. However, officials in Brevard County, home to the Kennedy Space Center, are promoting participation in an effort to jump-start a tourism industry hit hard by the coronavirus lockdowns.
— PANDEMIC PHILANTHROPY: While traditional donations appear to be experiencing a marked drop, people are still reaching out to help others during the pandemic. That includes digital fundraising campaigns. There are GoFundMe pages for medical care, and scrawled signs in apartment elevator banks offering help grocery shopping.