In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a worker wearing a protective face mask irons clothes at a re-opened shopping mall in in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, Monday, March 30, 2020. Shopkeepers in the city at the center of China's virus outbreak were reopening Monday but customers were scarce after authorities lifted more of the anti-virus controls that kept tens of millions of people at home for two months. (Shen Bohan/Xinhua via AP)

What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

March 30, 2020 - 8:35 pm

The governors of New York and California are moving to rapidly expand the ranks of health care workers, as the death toll from COVID-19 in New York surged past 1,200 while hospitalizations in California doubled in the last four days.

The spike in deaths in New York was another sign of the long fight ahead against the global pandemic, which has infected three-quarters of a million people worldwide, filled Spain's intensive care beds to capacity and shut millions of Americans indoors.

Here are some of AP's top stories Monday 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:

-The city at the center of China’s virus outbreak was reopening for business after authorities lifted more of the controls that locked downs tens of millions of people for two months. “I want to revenge shop,” declared an excited customer at one of Wuhan’s major shopping streets.

- Macy's, Kohl's and Gap Inc. all said they will stop paying tens of thousands of employees who were thrown out of work when the chains temporarily closed their stores and sales collapsed as a result of the pandemic. Macy's said the majority of its 125,000 employees will be furloughed this week and that it is transitioning to an "absolute minimum workforce" needed to maintain basic operations.

-President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to extend restrictive social distancing guidelines through the end of April, while bracing the nation for a coronavirus death toll that could exceed 100,000.

- New York’s governor issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers Monday amid a surging number of deaths, as health officials warned that the crisis unfolding in New York City is just a preview of what other communities across the U.S. could soon face.

-California is enlisting retired doctors and medical and nursing students to help treat an anticipated surge of coronavirus patients, the governor announced Monday. The California Health Corps effort comes as the nation’s most populous state anticipates hospitals becoming overwhelmed with patients and while it is preparing stadiums and convention centers to handle a crush of cases.

— An exclusive data analysis from AP finds that more than a third of counties across the U.S. still haven't reported a positive test result for infection across what are predominantly poor, rural areas.

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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:

$20: Benchmark U.S. crude fell more than 6% and dropped below $20 per barrel at one point for the first time since early 2002. Oil started the year above $60, and prices have plunged on expectations that a weakened global economy will burn less fuel. The world is awash in oil, meanwhile, as producers continue to pull more of it out of the ground.

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IN OTHER NEWS:

LIFE UNDERWATER: Submariners stealthily cruising the ocean deeps, purposefully shielded from above-water worries to focus on their top-secret missions of nuclear deterrence, may be among the last pockets of people anywhere who are still blissfully unaware of how the pandemic is turning life upside down.

TELL ME HOW TO WASH: Elmo, Rooster and Cookie Monster are doing their part to help keep kids safe during the pandemic. The beloved Sesame Street characters are featured in some of four new animated public service spots reminding young fans to take care while doing such things as washing hands and sneezing.

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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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