Americans lose 20.5 million jobs in April as COVID-19 spreads

Coronavirus

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The U.S. unemployment rate rocketed to 14.7% in April, a level last seen during the Great Depression, as 20.5 million jobs vanished in the worst monthly loss on record — stark evidence of how the coronavirus has brought the economy to its knees.

“It’s going to take a long time before the labor market recovers to its pre-recession state,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

European leaders, meanwhile, held muted commemorations to mark the end of World War II on the continent as lockdowns kept crowds from celebrating VE Day.

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:

— It’s a frightening time for people who have lost jobs during a collapse not seen since 1939. Bills need to be paid. Do they qualify for unemployment benefits? How fast will the money arrive? Here are some questions and answers.

— Many religious Americans are fine with waiting longer to return to their churches, synagogues and mosques. Only about a third say that prohibiting in-person services violates religious freedom, according to a poll by The University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

— From India to Argentina, untold millions who already were struggling to get by have had their lives made even harder by lockdowns and layoffs. How the world’s poor get through this pandemic will help determine how quickly the global economy recovers and how much aid is needed to keep countries afloat.

— President Donald Trump needled his Democratic rival Joe Biden for limiting his campaign appearances to virtual events from the basement of his home in Delaware. Meanwhile, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence has the coronavirus, marking the second person in the White House complex known to test positive this week.

— The World Health Organization doesn’t recommend that markets selling live animals be shut down, even if a market in China likely played a role in the coronavirus pandemic. WHO food safety expert Peter Ben Embarek says the markets are critical to providing food for millions. He says authorities should focus on improving them rather than outlawing them.

— Few countries celebrate Mother’s Day with as much gusto as Mexico, and that has created fears the celebrations could threaten lock-down measures and spread the virus. Some officials have closed public markets, pastry shops and flower shops, while others are proposing a virtual Mother’s Day or even postponing the fun for a month.

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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:

— 1,031: The number of workers infected at a Tyson Foods pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, a far greater figure than the state or company has acknowledged, local health officials said. The workers — nearly 40% of the plant — have tested positive for the coronavirus or for antibodies that show they had been infected.

IN OTHER NEWS:

— STEP BACK: The coronavirus has turned retail employees into store sheriffs. They confront shoppers who aren’t wearing masks and enforce social distancing measures such as limits on the number of people allowed inside. “Everybody is on edge,” says Sandy Jensen at a Sam’s Club in California. Her frustration is shared by store workers across the country.

— NOT JUST LUNCH: He sold food with a side of humor at his family’s bright green taco truck in Seattle. “Hello, my friend!” Tomas Lopez said. “No yoga today? You must be hungry!” Lopez, 44, died of COVID-19 on April 2. He is being mourned by many who considered their quick encounters with Lopez a bright spot in their day.

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