What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

On a day of economic gloom, scientists offered a ray of hope: the first effective treatment against the coronavirus.

The U.S. government said it is working to make the antiviral medication remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible after a major study found it shortened the time it takes for COVID-19 patients to recover by four days on average — from 15 days to 11. The news came as the U.S. government reported that American output is shriveling at an alarming rate in the biggest and fastest collapse since the Depression.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Wednesday 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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— The U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate last quarter as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country and began triggering a recession that will end the longest expansion on record. Amid the economic fallout, the Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it will keep its key short-term interest rate near zero for the foreseeable future.

— President Donald Trump said Wednesday the federal government will not be extending its coronavirus social distancing guidelines once they expire Thursday. He also said he plans to resume official travel with a trip to Arizona next week and hopes to resume mass campaign rallies in the coming months.

— New figures show that out of 2,700 coronavirus tests across the federal Bureau of Prisons, nearly 2,000 have come back positive, strongly suggesting there are far more COVID-19 cases left undiscovered.

— As governments across the United States gradually allow businesses to reopen, leaders are grappling with how much legal protection to give companies in case their workers get sick from the coronavirus.

— It started with a funeral that got out of hand. It ended Wednesday with some of New York City’s Jews at odds with the mayor over his criticisms of the Orthodox community as it struggles to deal with the coronavirus.

— Puerto Rico’s government has failed to tap into millions of federal dollars set aside for the island as a growing number of unemployed parents struggle to feed their children in a U.S. territory where nearly 70% of public school students are poor.

— The discovery of about 50 bodies on ice in rented trucks outside a funeral home is the latest example of New York City’s morticians struggling to cope with the number of dead amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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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:

— 1,000: The number of coronavirus-related deaths in India, which has shelved a plan to give the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to thousands of people in Mumbai’s crowded slums to prevent coronavirus infections.

IN OTHER NEWS:

— POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: LeBron James is putting together an all-star event to honor and celebrate the high school class of 2020, which has had its graduation season upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

— HURDLE INSPIRATION: Clint Hurdle began sending his daily notes of inspiration more than 10 years ago, during his days managing the Colorado Rockies. What used to be group text messages have turned into much more — every morning, his Daily Encouragement emails go out to some 5,000 eager recipients.

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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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