Regional and political fractures are emerging in many nations over how fast to lift the lid on coronavirus-imposed lockdowns, as worries about economic devastation collide with fears of a second wave of deaths.

French mayors are resisting the government’s call to reopen schools, but Italian governors want Rome to ease lockdown measures faster. In the U.S., meanwhile, a new report on unemployment claims shows the depth of job losses caused by business shutdowns.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Thursday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic. Follow for updates through the day and for stories explaining some of its complexities.


— More grim news on the condition of the U.S. economy. Nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. Roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus forced companies to slash payrolls. That is the equivalent of 20% of Americans who had been employed in February when the jobless rate was at a 50-year low.

— The Trump administration has shelved a 17-page report by federal experts that was supposed to help faith leaders, business owners and state officials as they begin to reopen public places. An official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells The Associated Press that it was supposed to be published last Friday. The administration has been closely controlling the release of guidance during a pandemic that scientists are still trying to understand.

— The decision to wear a mask in public is becoming a political statement, a moment to pick sides in a culture war over containing the coronavirus. The mask is increasingly a visual shorthand for a debate pitting those willing to follow health officials’ guidance against those who feel it violates their freedom. “Even if it’s going to help protect them, people don’t want the government telling them what to do,” a professor says.

— Freshly dug graves have been filling up quickly for weeks with the bodies of Brazilians killed by COVID-19. The country’s first lockdown was not ordered until this week, when there were already more than 7,000 deaths. President Jair Bolsonaro has railed against business shutdowns as more harmful than the virus itself.



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.



— 100: The number of Illinois nursing homes, most of them in the Chicago area, that had been bracing for a strike by staff. A deal Thursday averts a walkout and protects workers and residents during the coronavirus outbreak, both sides say.


— ONE-WOMAN MISSION: An 80-year-old woman drives a white minivan every day through St. Petersburg, Russia, on a charitable mission for the elderly and needy families. Galina Yakovleva, who was a child during the World War II siege of Leningrad, has been doing this for a decade and hasn’t let the virus deter her. “My soul does not let me leave all my people in need without attention,” she says.

— PITCHING IN: The global pandemic has drawn attention to just how vital foreigners are to the Arab Gulf countries where they work. They carry out essential work, whether it’s in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, an isolation ward in Kuwait or a grocery store in the United Arab Emirates.