What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus hit 100,000 on Friday as Christians around the globe marked a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews.

Public health officials and religious leaders alike warned people against violating lockdowns and social distancing rules over Easter and allowing the virus to come storming back. Authorities resorted to roadblocks and other means to discourage travel.

With economies hit hard by the pandemic, some governments faced mounting pressure to restart some industries and fend off further economic devastation from the coronavirus.

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.

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THE FIGHT FOR NEW YORK: Listen to AP’s coronavirus podcast, “Ground Game: Inside the Outbreak,” for an interview with three AP reporters who worked on “24 Hours: The Fight for New York,” a multiformat package following 10 New Yorkers as they negotiate life in a city transformed by the virus.

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WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:

—Pope Francis prostrated himself in a nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica during a Good Friday service in a sign of obedient humility. He heard a papal preacher say the coronavirus has reminded people they are mortal, not all-powerful.

—President Donald Trump says he has no plans to seek his predecessors’ counsel during the coronavirus pandemic. Even in the face of the greatest challenge of his presidency, Trump has expressed confidence in his team, and said he didn’t want to “bother” the former presidents.

—Apple and Google launched a major joint effort to leverage smartphone technology to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New software the companies plan to add to phones would make it easier to use Bluetooth wireless technology to track down people who may have been infected by coronavirus carriers.

—Even as nearly 17 million Americans sought unemployment benefits, a large number appear to be falling through the cracks. They can’t get through jammed phone systems or finish their applications on overloaded websites. And now there is a whole new category of people seeking help — gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed people.

—International charity groups usually provide support to war-torn or impoverished countries. But now, they’re sending humanitarian aid to some of the wealthiest places in the United States to help manage the coronavirus pandemic. Experts say the fact that U.S. health providers are turning to international charities underscores the government’s inadequate response.

—President Donald Trump is claiming without evidence that expanding mail-in voting will increase voter fraud. But several GOP state officials are forging ahead to do just that, undermining one of Trump’s arguments about how elections should be conducted amid the coronavirus outbreak.

— As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flashes back to an earlier crisis that gripped the nation, and his own life, when he was a boy. He was stricken with polio. The two crises now bookend McConnell’s years, making the Kentucky Republican an unexpected voice of personal reflection. “Why does this current pandemic remind me of that? I think No. 1 is the fear,” he told The Associated Press.

—The coronavirus has infected so many doctors, nurses and other health workers that some in France, Italy and Spain are now quickly returning from their sick beds and heading back to the front lines. “We were trained for this. The world needs us,” one doctor explained.

—The coronavirus pandemic in Spain has heightened the fragility of the elderly of Barcelona’s working-class Poble Sec neighborhood. It has stripped away the safety nets that kept them fed and healthy, and exposed them to a daily threat of infection that they know will likely kill them. Difficult decisions are being made every day in the battle to keep the elderly safe.

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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.

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ONE NUMBER:

$550 BILLION: Governments from the 19 countries that use the euro have agreed on measures that could provide more than a half-trillion euros ($550 billion) for companies, workers and health systems to cushion the economic impact of the virus outbreak.

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IN OTHER NEWS:

— THE HOWLING: From California to New York, some Americans are taking a moment each night to howl as a way of thanking the health care workers and first responders. It’s an American twist on the applause and singing for besieged health care workers in Europe.

—NURSES’ QUESTIONS: U.S. nurses are facing a fundamental question that pits their professional principles against their personal welfare: Did they sign up to become heroes?

— SOCIAL DISTANCE POWWOWS: With the largest powwows in the country canceled and postponed amid the spread of the coronavirus, tribal members have found a new outlet online with the Social Distance Powwow.

— VIRTUAL SEDER: Rabbi Shlomo Segal is among the spiritual leaders adapting to a Passover in the shadow of COVID-19. The 40-year-old self-described “liberal” Orthodox rabbi has brought his Seder to YouTube.

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

Categories: National News