What you need to know about the virus outbreak and how it is affecting those around you

As hot spots flared around the United States in places like New Orleans, Detroit and Southern California, New York was the hardest hit of them all, with bodies loaded onto refrigerated morgue trucks by gurney and forklift outside overwhelmed hospitals. And the worst is yet to come, with Vice President Mike Pence comparing the U.S. trajectory to that of Italy.

Experts warned that there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. even if social distancing guidelines are maintained. America now has more than 4,000 dead from the outbreak.

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:

— Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday as local pressure mounted for him to abandon the county-by-county approach he had implemented. Florida, which has recorded 86 deaths, followed more than 30 other U.S. states that had already issued such orders, including other large states such as California, New York and Illinois.

— Vice President Mike Pence said the White House’s models for the coronavirus outbreak show the country on a trajectory akin to hard-hit Italy. Pence was referencing the prediction models unveiled Tuesday by the White House that project 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. deaths in the pandemic. Those figures assume that the country maintains rigorous social-distancing practices for the duration of the public health crisis.

— Countries around the world continue to test potential treatments. The Russian government said Wednesday that tests of a new coronavirus vaccine will begin in June. Algeria plans to administer the anti-malaria medication chloroquine to treat citizens with confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as those who appear to be infected. Many doctors say more tests need to be done before chloroquine is used as a treatment.

— Wimbledon was canceled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament won’t be played.

— The IRS and the Treasury Department say Americans will start receiving their economic impact checks in the next three weeks. AP’s business team sets out what you need to do to get your check.

— Facing intense surges in the need for hospital ICU beds, European nations are on a building and hiring spree, throwing together makeshift hospitals and shipping coronavirus patients out of overwhelmed cities. The key question is whether they will be able to find enough healthy medical staff to make it all work.

— The coronavirus pandemic couldn’t come at a worse time for rural communities across the U.S. that have lost their hospitals. Nearly 200 small-town hospitals have closed nationwide since 2005, often forcing residents to drive much farther for health care. Last year was the worst yet for shutdowns, and officials say hundreds more rural hospitals are endangered by the pandemic.

___

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.

___

ONE NUMBER:

— 27,000: U.S. companies shed 27,000 jobs in March, according to a private survey, a figure that mostly reflected the economy as it stood before the full impact of the viral outbreak.

___

IN OTHER NEWS:

— DIY MARATHON: A former professional javelin thrower in England found an unusual way to celebrate his 32nd birthday while being stuck at home: He ran a marathon in his backyard.

— UN-BAAAAA-LIEVABLE: With humans sheltering indoors to escape the new coronavirus, mountain goats are taking advantage of the peace and space to roam in frisky clumps through the streets of Llandudno, a town in North Wales.

— DIG, PLANT, BREATHE: As spring’s arrival in the Northern Hemisphere coincides with government stay-at-home orders, the itch to get outside has turned backyard gardens into a getaway for the mind in chaotic times.

___

Source: Associated Press