The ranks of Americans thrown out of work by the coronavirus is ballooning, causing an unprecedented collapse that has fueled widening protests and propelled President Donald Trump’s push to relax the nation’s social distancing guidelines.
The government said 5.2 million more people applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the running total to about 22 million out of a U.S. work force of roughly 159 million — easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record.
Trump planned to announce new recommendations later in the day to allow states to reopen despite warnings from business leaders and governors that more testing and protective gear are needed first. Thousands more public health workers also could be required.
Here are some of AP’s top stories Thursday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
—Ten nurses have been suspended from their jobs at a hospital in Santa Monica, California, after refusing to care for coronavirus patients without being provided protective N95 face masks. They are among hundreds of doctors, nurses and other health care workers across the U.S. who say they’ve been asked to work without adequate protection. Some have taken part in protests or lodged formal complaints. Others are buying — or even making — their own supplies.
—Dr. Giovanni Passeri has worked every day at a hospital since his ward received its first COVID-19 case on March 7 in the hard-hit Parma province in northern Italy. An AP photographer documented his day and night, from his tense 12-hour overnight shift to his drastically altered routine at home with his wife and 10-year-old son. What emerges is an intimate portrait of a doctor from a medical staff that well-wishers have affectionately dubbed their “warriors.”
—As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden begins the process of choosing a running mate, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has become an unexpected part of the audition. The women who are believed to be top candidates are trying to demonstrate leadership on issues thrust into the spotlight by the virus.
—Many Americans are struggling financially due to the coronavirus. A recent federal relief package makes it easier for people financially harmed by the coronavirus outbreak to tap into their retirement savings for cash by loosening rules for withdrawals and loans. But should they use them? Experts say it’s an option of last resort and should be done with great caution.
—In late February when President Donald Trump was urging Americans not to panic over the novel coronavirus, alarms were sounding at a little-known intelligence unit situated on a U.S. Army base an hour’s drive north of Washington. Intelligence, science and medical professionals at the National Center for Medical Intelligence were monitoring and tracking global health threats that could endanger U.S. troops abroad and Americans at home.
—In China, where consumer spending propels most of the country’s growth, people have been slow to return to shopping malls and auto dealerships. Authorities are trying to encourage spending by handing out shopping vouchers, but many people are uneasy about a possible resurgence of the coronavirus or losing their jobs.
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.
— 22 million: Roughly 22 million have sought jobless benefits in the past month — easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record.
— LOVERS’ GAZE: A co-worker snapped a photo of two nurses, a husband and wife, in an eye-to-eye embrace despite layers of protective gear. The image is inspiring people around the globe.
— IRAN’S MUSICIANS: Performance halls in Iran are closed and many residents are isolated in their homes amid the Mideast’s worst outbreak. But some Iranian musicians are finding performance spaces where they can play, including on rooftops and in doorways and empty porches.
— HELPING CONNECTIONS: A 19-year-old Rhode Island man has set up a program to help coronavirus patients who aren’t allowed to receive visitors while in the hospital stay connected to their loved ones.