What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

Regional and political fractures are emerging in many countries over how fast to lift the lid on coronavirus-imposed lockdowns, as worries about economic devastation collide with fears of a second wave of deaths.

French mayors are resisting the government’s call to reopen schools, but Italian governors want Rome to ease lockdown measures faster. In the U.S., meanwhile, a new report on unemployment claims shows the depth of job losses caused by business shutdowns.

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:

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— Many governors across the U.S. are disregarding White House guidelines for safely easing restrictions and letting businesses reopen, an Associated Press analysis found. Those states do not appear to meet one of the key benchmarks set by the White House for loosening up.

— Concern is growing that mixed messages about the seriousness of the pandemic from Mexico’s president and lax enforcement of social distancing are manifesting in what could be a frightening preview as infections begin to peak in Mexico City and its suburbs. Some 20 million people live in close quarters in the Mexican capital, jamming subways and buses, shopping in crowded markets and clustering around street food stalls.

— A new study finds no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug promoted by President Donald Trump, among others, as a treatment for coronavirus infection. Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 patients treated at Columbia University in New York, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

— As the coronavirus pandemic decimates many companies, big business that has become synonymous with the world’s largest prison system continues to make money. Men and women behind bars in at least 40 states continue to work, sometimes earning next to nothing to make masks and hand sanitizer to help protect others from the pandemic.

— One of the world’s largest brewers may have to dump 400 million bottles of beer as a result of South Africa’s ban on alcohol sales that is part of its lockdown measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

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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:

— 3: The number of McDonald’s employees in Oklahoma City who were injured when an angry customer learned the dining area was closed because of the virus and fired a shotgun, police said. The employees were expected to recover.

IN OTHER NEWS:

— ONE-WOMAN MISSION: An 80-year-old woman drives a white minivan every day through St. Petersburg, Russia, on a charitable mission for the elderly and needy families. Galina Yakovleva, who was a child during the World War II siege of Leningrad, has been doing this for a decade and hasn’t let the virus deter her. “My soul does not let me leave all my people in need without attention,” she says.

— FRONT-LINE FOREIGNERS: The global pandemic has drawn attention to just how vital foreigners are to the Arab Gulf countries where they work. They carry out essential work, whether it’s in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, an isolation ward in Kuwait or a grocery store in the United Arab Emirates.

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

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