What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

NEW YORK -AP- With many U.S. states lifting their coronavirus restrictions according to their own timetables and needs, Americans are facing a bewildering multitude of decisions about what they should and should not do to protect themselves and their neighbors.

Is it safe now to join the crowds at the beach or go out to eat at a favorite restaurant? To visit the elderly parents you haven’t seen in nearly two months? The less-than-satisfying answer from the experts is: It depends.

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:

— Biotech company Gilead Sciences says its experimental coronavirus drug has proved effective in a major U.S. government study that put it to a strict test. The drug, remdesivir, would be the first treatment to pass such a test against the virus.

— 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.

— New York’s empty streets have reinforced the idea of the coronavirus as an urban contagion, but statistically, you may be more likely to have the virus if you live in the suburbs. Several counties outside the five boroughs have higher infection rates than densely populated Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

— Reversing course, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is “open” to considering additional funds for state and local governments in the next coronavirus relief bill as Democrats seek more than $500 billion to cover costs of police, firefighters and other front-line workers.

— More than 50 people who voted in person or worked the polls during Wisconsin’s election earlier this month have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.

— In cities around the world, public transport systems are the key to getting workers back on the job and restarting devastated economies, yet everything from trains to buses to ferries to bicycles will have to be re-imagined for the coronavirus era.

— Records reviewed by The Associated Press show that an exclusive group of Texans stood to benefit when the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, urged a small Colorado county to reverse a public health order during the coronavirus outbreak. The Texans who own property in the county include a Dallas donor and college classmate who helped Paxton launch his run for attorney general, among other Paxton contributors.

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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:

— 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.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakPAID FOR BY COMPARISONS.ORG

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News Talk Florida Staff