What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

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The number of people around the world who have contracted coronavirus has surged past 500,000, based on a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

That comes as U.S. deaths from the pandemic have now topped 1,000, in another grim milestone for a global outbreak that is taking lives and wreaking havoc on economies and established routines of life. Worldwide, the death toll climbed past 23,000, according to Johns Hopkins’ running count.

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week – almost five times the previous record set in 1982 – amid a widespread shutdown caused by the virus. The surge in weekly applications is a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Layoffs are sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession with revenue collapsing at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines.

Spanish and Italian medical workers are at breaking point as the virus wages a bitter war of attrition against health care workers around the world. Italy reported 6,153 new coronavirus infections, pushing the total to 80,539 cases, almost as many as China.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Thursday 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:

– House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress will give final approval Friday to the $2.2 trillion economic rescue bill, a vote that would cap Congress’ tumultuous effort to rush the relief to a nation battered by the coronavirus.

– The coronavirus is taking a growing toll on the U.S. military, and commanders and senior officials are bracing for worse. From nuclear missile fields at home to war zones abroad, from flight lines to ships at sea, the Pentagon is striving to shield vital missions even as it faces urgent calls for help on the civilian front.

– China is temporarily barring most foreigners from entering the country as it seeks to curb the number of imported coronavirus cases. In India, some of the country’s legions of poor and others thrown out of work by a nationwide stay-at-home order began receiving aid from public and private groups working to ensure people have enough to eat.

– President Donald Trump’s desire to reopen the coronavirus-battered economy in a matter of weeks has thrust the administration into the delicate position of weighing the revival of commerce versus the value of American life. That comes as a growing number of Americans say state and federal governments are starting to trample civil rights in the name of public health.

– While the rampant infections in New York City have dominated much of the national conversation about the virus, smaller communities in places like Georgia’s mostly rural southwest corner are preparing for things to get worse. After an infected person from out of town attended a funeral, the largest hospital in that area is rapidly running out of space amid the highest rate of coronavirus infection in the state.

– In France, the fight against COVID-19 is being waged one baguette at a time. The iconic loaf and the daily ritual of buying it have become loaded with moral, civic and public health considerations that could never have been imagined a few months ago.

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:

$2.7 billion: Estimated cost of postponing the Tokyo Olympics, the Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei estimated. The Tokyo Olympics need new dates for the opening and closing ceremonies in 2021. Nothing much can get done until those dates are determined by the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government and Tokyo organizers.

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

A Costco employee, right, looks towards a shopper wearing a mask and snorkel to go shopping, as she sanitizes carts that are returned from the parking lot to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, in King of Prussia, Pa., Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
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