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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak finally snapped the United States’ record-breaking hiring streak of nearly 10 years as employers cut 701,000 jobs because of the pandemic that's all but shut down the nation's economy.

The unemployment rate jumped to 4.4% from a 50-year low of 3.5%.

Meanwhile, U.S. and European medical workers struggling to save ailing patients Friday watched supplies of medicine, protective equipment and breathing machines dwindle by the hour.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Friday on the 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:

—Does another 2008 Great Recession or even a 1930s-like Great Depression loom in the U.S.? It seems almost certain after nearly 10 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for unemployment benefits in the past two weeks — a record high that reflects the near-complete shutdown of the U.S. economy. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve just lost your job.

—A funeral home owner speaks of both the ″surreal″ and the painfully real as he and others in the same line of work struggle with more deaths than ever: They’re a father, they’re a mother, they’re a grandmother. They’re not bodies. They’re people,” he said. His company is equipped to handle 40 to 60 cases at a time, without a problem. On Thursday morning, it was taking care of 185.

—A makeshift intensive-care unit in northeastern Spain looks nothing like the hospital library it once was. Inside, the tension is palpable. Medical workers are underequipped and wearing improvised protective gear as they treat the critically sick.

U.S. States are bidding against each other to obtain the desperately needed medical devices from private manufacturers. This comes as the Federal Emergency Management Agency has nearly 10,000 ventilators sitting idle.

The Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many Americans wear face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, as the president is aggressively defending his response to the public health crisis.

—A U.S. newspaper industry already under stress is facing an unprecedented new challenge. Readers desperate for information are more reliant than ever on local media as the coronavirus spreads across the U.S. But newspapers and other publications are under pressure as advertising craters. They are cutting jobs, staff hours and pay, dropping print editions -- and in some cases shutting down entirely.

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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:

1975: The nearly full point increase in the U.S. unemployment rate from February to March was the sharpest monthly rise since 1975.

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IN OTHER NEWS:

LIFE INTERRUPTED: The patterns of our daily routines are now replaced by the patterns of empty parking lots, rows of school buses sitting idle and the long shadows of solitary figures in the early spring sunshine.

FEEDING THE FRONT LINES: A group of tech-savvy, entrepreneurial San Francisco friends wanted to help two groups devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. They came up with a plan that involved soliciting donations, tapping friends in the restaurant world and getting San Francisco hospitals to accept free food cooked up by some of the city’s top chefs.

HOPE IN BLOOD: Doctors around the world are dusting off a century-old treatment for infections: Infusions of blood plasma teeming with immune molecules that helped survivors beat the new coronavirus. There’s no proof it will work, but former patients in Houston and New York were early donors, and now hospitals and blood centers are getting ready for potentially hundreds.

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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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