The number of people around the world who have contracted the coronavirus has surged past 500,000, and the United States tops the list, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
U.S. deaths have now topped 1,200, in another grim update for a global outbreak that has wreaked 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 reflection of the damage the outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Layoffs are sure to accelerate as revenue collapses at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told leaders of the world's 20 major industrialized nations during an emergency virtual summit that "we are at war with a virus — and not winning it" despite countries' dramatic measures to seal their borders, shutter businesses and enforce home isolation for well over a quarter of the world's population.
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. Stocks marched higher for a third straight day Friday as the bill moved closer to passage.
—At New York City-area hospitals on the front lines of the biggest concentration of coronavirus cases in the U.S., workers are increasingly concerned about the ravages of the illness in their own ranks. Louisiana, home to the world-famous pre-Lenten Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans each spring, was quickly becoming another smoldering hotspot.
—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.
—The Trump administration is sticking with its crowd-friendly waiver of entrance fees at national parks during the coronavirus pandemic, as managers at some parks try and fail to keep visitors a safe distance apart and communities appeal for a shutdown at the parks still open. The administration agreed last week to close some parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains, after requests from the park managers.
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.
$2.7 billion: Estimated cost of postponing the Tokyo Olympics, according to the Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei. 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.