What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed Italy’s to become the highest in the world at more than 20,000, as Chicago and other cities across the Midwest braced for a potential surge in victims. Meanwhile, the coronavirus crisis is taxing New York City’s 911 system like never before.

President Donald Trump and his officials have made critical promises meant to reassure a country in the throes of the pandemic. But Americans are still going without medical supplies and financial help from the government at the very time they need it most — and were told they would have it.

Europe is trying to persuade its residents to stay home ahead of the Easter holiday and the anticipated sunny weather while grappling with how and when to start loosening the weekslong shutdowns of much of public life.

Doctors around the world are frantically trying to figure out how COVID-19 is killing their patients so they can attempt new ways to fight back.

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Here are some of AP’s top stories Saturday 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.

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THE FIGHT FOR NEW YORK: Listen to AP’s coronavirus podcast, “Ground Game: Inside the Outbreak,” for an interview with three AP reporters who worked on “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.

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WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:

— Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress prefer to replenish a small-business program rather than negotiate a broader coronavirus package that Democrats are pushing with the White House.

— Congo, which has been battling an Ebola outbreak that killed thousands of people, now must also face the coronavirus pandemic.

— Leaders in Iran decide to reopen government offices after a brief nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 4,300 people in the country.

— A recent increase in virus cases in China has been largely attributed to people arriving from overseas. African nations and the U.S. say that’s resulting in mistreatment of African Americans and Africans in the city of Guangzhou.

— Walt Disney World plans to stop paying wages to 43,000 workers while allowing them to keep their benefits for up to a year in the largest wave of furloughs since the theme park resort closed in mid-March.

— A federal judge ruled that Kentucky’s largest city cannot halt a local church’s drive-in service planned for Easter.

— The threat of strong tornadoes and other damaging weather on Easter posed a safety dilemma for Deep South communities deciding how to protect residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

— The IRS says the first economic support payments stemming from the coronavirus outbreak have been deposited in taxpayers’ bank accounts.

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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:

42%: The drop in drug arrests in Chicago in the weeks since the city shut down, compared with the same period last year. Part of that decrease is attributed to the economic slump resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

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IN OTHER NEWS:

— SMARTPHONE HELP: Apple and Google announce a joint effort to help public health agencies worldwide leverage smartphones to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

— TURIN SHROUD SHOWING: The Turin Shroud, a burial cloth some believe covered Jesus and which has links to a 16th-century plague in northern Italy, was put on special view for faithful worldwide through video streaming on Holy Saturday.

— HOPE IS BORN: The Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans welcomes a new resident, a baby giraffe named Hope.

— HOLY WATER FROM ABOVE: The archbishop of New Orleans sprinkled holy water from a World War II-era biplane high above the city in an unusual Good Friday blessing for those affected by the coronavirus.

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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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