What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

By | April 13, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown millions out of work and devastated economies worldwide, and governments are struggling with the delicate balance between keeping people safe from a highly contagious virus and making sure they can still make a living or even have enough to eat.

The United States’ top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the economy in parts of the country could have a “rolling reentry” as early as next month, provided health authorities can quickly identify and isolate people who will inevitably be infected.

Fauci also said that earlier mitigation could have saved lives but that knowing when to take such steps is “complicated.” Those comments seemed to draw the ire of President Donald Trump.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Monday 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.


— President Donald Trump asserted Monday that he is the ultimate decision-maker for determining how and when to relax the nation’s social distancing guidelines as he grows anxious to reopen the coronavirus-stricken country as soon as possible. Governors and local leaders have expressed concern that Trump’s plan to restore normalcy will cost lives and extend the duration of the outbreak.

— Americans are beginning to see the first economic impact payments hit their bank accounts. The IRS tweeted Saturday that it had begun depositing the funds into taxpayers’ bank accounts and would be working to get them out as fast as possible.

— The coronavirus outbreak has fueled attempts to ban abortions in some states, but providers where the procedure remains available report increased demand, often from women distraught over economic stress and health concerns linked to the pandemic.

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— The notion of decision fatigue has been around a long time — long before the coronavirus. But with many previous insignificant decisions, the ramifications from mistakes were often low. Now, though, the most fleeting of daily choices — no matter where you are — have taken on the most monumental of potential consequences.

— As countries across Europe have restricted the movement of their citizens, Sweden stands out for what the country’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, calls a “low-scale” approach that is “much more sustainable” over a longer period. The softer approach means that schools for younger children, restaurants and most businesses are still open, creating the impression that Swedes are living their lives as usual.

— A tweet by Japan’s prime minister urging citizens to stay home to stop the coronavirus appears to have rubbed many people frustrated by his handling of the crisis the wrong way. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week declared a monthlong state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures, asking people there to stay at home. But the policy is voluntary and doesn’t come with compensation for cash-strapped workers. The video shows Abe seated at home, stroking a dog, sipping from a cup and reading a book.



— Despite what President Donald Trump repeatedly says, voting fraud is rare. Trump claimed in a tweet Saturday that mail-in voting “increases the risk of crime and VOTER FRAUD!” An AP Fact Check finds some election studies have shown a slightly higher incidence of mail-in voting fraud compared with in-person voting but the overall risk is extremely low.

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THE FIGHT FOR NEW YORK: Take some time to go through “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.



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.



204: There are 204 days until the U.S. presidential election in November, and with so much uncertainty over the coronavirus outbreak, politics are a long way from getting back to normal.



— COMMUTER CASH: A Massachusetts man has been donating what he would have spent on gas and lunch to two local charities: a program providing weekend meals to children dependent on weekday school lunches for nutrition, and an initiative working to end gun violence among troubled youths.

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— GHOSTLY CITY: Virus-era New York City captured in photos from a motorbike.

— TEMPLE ANIMALS: Normally, animals at Nepal’s most revered Hindu temple, Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, are fed by thousands of devotees. With a lockdown in place, guards, staff and volunteers are coming out to ensure that the animals survive.


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

ABC News: Health