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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A view of La Boqueria market closed down in downtown Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. 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. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

America's coronavirus infections have surged to the most in the world, reaching 100,000 cases Friday with New York still the worst hit in the country. Troubling new outbreaks are bubbling in other cities including Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans, which is rushing to build a makeshift hospital in its convention center.

The U.S. House Friday approved a $2.2 trillion rescue package that was immediately signed by President Trump in a shared effort to shore up a U.S. economy and health care system left flailing by the coronavirus pandemic.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first leader of a major country to test positive and Italy has shut down its industry. Masses of unemployed Indian laborers were getting food handouts and South Africa has begun a three-week lockdown.

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.


— New Orleans’ sprawling convention center along the Mississippi River is being converted into a massive hospital as officials prepare for thousands more patients than they can accommodate. The preparations are conjuring images of another disaster, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the convention center became a squalid shelter of last resort.

— President Donald Trump has issued an order that seeks to force General Motors to produce ventilators for coronavirus patients under the Defense Production Act. Trump had previously been reluctant to use the act to force businesses to contribute to the coronavirus fight.

Spiritual leaders the world over are facing a conundrum as the death toll from the coronavirus mounts, leaving the faithful in the U.S., Italy and elsewhere struggling to amend ancient burial practices to follow government recommendations. Some funerals are not being held at all, or limited to gatherings of 10 or fewer people.

— The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new rapid test f rom Abbott Laboratories, which the company says can detect the coronavirus in about 5 minutes. Medical device maker Abbott announced the emergency clearance of its cartridge-based test in a release Friday night. The company says that its test delivers a negative result in 13 minutes when the virus is not detected.

Tourists across Asia are finding their dream vacations have turned into travel nightmares as airlines cancel flights and countries close their borders in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of tourists escaping cold weather in Europe were scrambling this week to find alternative ways to return home from the Thai island of Phuket in the Andaman Sea.



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.

Misinformation overload: How to separate fact from fiction and rumor from deliberate efforts to mislead.

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.


INSIDE THE OUTBREAK PODCAST: The Senate approved a massive $2.2 trillion rescue package to help revive the American economy. In the latest episode of "Ground Game: Inside the Outbreak," AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace and host Ralph Russo discuss what this all means.



MERCI: Health workers fighting to save lives in France have received a huge show of gratitude — from the Eiffel Tower. “Merci,” the French word for “thank you,” and “stay at home” in English were emblazoned in lights on Paris’ world-famous landmark Friday night, as France’s coronavirus death toll continued to climb.

AP PHOTOS: Masks, disinfectant, the new normal for commuters.


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