What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

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Senate leaders were rushing to unravel last-minute snags and win passage of unprecedented emergency legislation to rush sweeping aid totaling some $2 trillion to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic.

New York authorities mobilized to head off a potential public health disaster, which has emerged as a kind of a warning flare for the crisis in America as the overall U.S. death toll has passed 900. India’s 1.3 billion people joined the global lockdown, and Prince Charles has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

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:

– A makeshift morgue has been set up outside New York’s Bellevue Hospital as authorities mobilize to head off a potential public health disaster as the overall U.S. death toll passed 900. The city’s police, their ranks dwindling as more fall sick, are being told to patrol nearly empty streets to enforce social distancing as the city has emerged as the nation’s biggest coronavirus hot spot. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has attributed the cluster to the city’s role as a gateway to international travelers and the sheer density of its population of 8.6 million.

– Pressure is mounting on the Trump administration to release people from immigration detention facilities where at least one detainee has tested positive for COVID-19 and advocates fear tight quarters and overall conditions could cause rapid spread of the virus. The U.S. holds around 37,000 people in immigration detention.

– The coronavirus is waging a war of attrition against health care workers throughout the world, but nowhere is it winning more battles at the moment than in Italy and in Spain, where protective equipment and tests have been in severely short supply for weeks.

– The pandemic is also touching remote areas spread across rural America, including people living in communities where “working from home” can mean driving a tractor alone through a empty field. Tiny towns tucked into Oregon’s windswept plains and cattle ranches miles from anywhere in South Dakota might not have had a single case of the coronavirus, but their main streets are also empty and their medical clinics are overwhelmed by the worried.

– Restaurants, hotels, airlines, automakers and entertainment venues have been hit hard around the world as cities, states and entire countries have ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and directed residents to remain at home. There are more suddenly jobless Americans than during the Great Recession.

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.

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

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ONE NUMBER:

$300,000: The money donated by the Michael Jackson estate to help people in the entertainment industry hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. The donations will focus on Broadway workers, as well as workers in Las Vegas and in the music industry. Jackson’s estate announced Wednesday that it will give $100,000 apiece to Broadway Cares, Three Square food bank in Nevada and the Recording Academy’s MusiCares. The estate’s co-executor John Branca tells The Associated Press the gifts are personal for the keepers of Jackson’s affairs and legacy and are in line with the singer’s charitable endeavors during his lifetime.

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IN OTHER NEWS:

PLAYING THROUGH: Many golf courses around the country have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic. The hope is that golf can provide an outlet for the stir crazy and a dose of normalcy. The question is whether recreational golf is safe enough under the circumstances. Courses have barred touching the flagsticks and turned the hole cups upside down so golfers don’t need reach in to retrieve the ball.

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AP PHOTOS: A look at how the epidemic is accentuating the pandemic in Madrid and Barcelona, where a growing number of people are living on the street. Spain, which ranks fourth worldwide among the countries with the most virus cases, is under a government-imposed lockdown that has closed stores, emptied office buildings and left cities largely deserted, day and night. With many day centers and soup kitchens either closed or with reduced hours, the homeless have nowhere to go.

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

Medical staffers wearing protective gear, part of a special unit performing house calls, work in Bergamo, northern Italy, one of the areas worse-affected by coronavirus, Wednesday, March 25, 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. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)
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