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What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

Federal officials waited to order medical supplies until stocks in the U.S. were running critically low as the new coronavirus spread across the country. A review of federal purchasing contracts by The Associated Press shows federal agencies waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment urgently needed by front-line health care workers.

Queen Elizabeth II appealed to Britons to exercise self-discipline in “an increasingly challenging time” as the country saw a record 24-hour jump in coronavirus deaths.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned Americans that this week is going to be “the hardest and the saddest" since the coronavirus struck the country.

Vanderbilt playground in Brooklyn's Prospect Park is closed on Thursday, April 2, 2020, in New York. On Wenesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all of New York city's playgrounds shut to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The governor followed calls from public-health experts and many City Council members to shut the playgrounds as families gathered there. But the closures presented a new challenge for families weathering a lockdown that also closed schools. (AP PhotoKathy Willens)

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

— Home testing for the new coronavirus may sound like a good idea, but U.S. regulators say it’s still too risky.

Mounted police on horseback stand on the top of Primrose Hill as they prepare to disperse people, to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep the park open for people observing the British government's guidance of social distancing, only using parks for dog walking, one form of exercise a day, like a run, walk, or cycle alone or with members of the same household, in London Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoMatt Dunham)

— Historic failures in government responses to disasters and emergencies, medical abuse, neglect and exploitation have jaded generations of African Americans into a distrust of public institutions.

— In the battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., states are missing a critical piece of information: how many health care workers have tested positive for the disease.

— Falling investment in public health in prior years is now being felt acutely as coronavirus crisis worsens. One study shows that between 2008 and 2017, state and local health departments lost more than 55,000 jobs — a major factor as cities struggle to respond to COVID-19.

A woman sitting on a bench is told to go home by a police officer on a motorbike, to stop the spread of coronavirus and keep the park open for people observing the British government's guidance of social distancing, only using parks for dog walking, one form of exercise a day, like a run, walk, or cycle alone or with members of the same household, on Primrose Hill in London, Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoMatt Dunham)

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as a 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.

A cyclist rides along an unusually quiet promenade in Blackpool, northwest England, Sunday, April 5, 2020 as a bout of warm weather has raised fears that the public may not observe the British government guidelines that include two metres social distancing from people that don't live in the same household, to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoJon Super)

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:

In this April 1, 2020, photo, Lisa Neuburger stands with her dog Bella by the camper she is living in and the chalk message she made in her former in-laws' driveway in St. Paul Park, Minn. Neuburger is living in the camper after being exposed to the coronavirus as an ICU nurse. (AP PhotoJim Mone)

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:

— ONE: Officials in South Sudan say the country has its first case of COVID-19, making it the 51st of Africa’s 54 countries where the disease has appeared.

A Sri Lankan fire brigade person disinfects his colleagues after they assisted transporting the coffin of a person who died not because of the new virus during a curfew in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoEranga Jayawardena)

IN OTHER NEWS:

— SIDEWALK SMILES: Workers at New Orleans’ Ochsner Medical Center who take the familiar stroll from the parking lot to the main entrance have been greeted with sidewalk sketches from an anonymous artist.

— TRAINS TO THE RESCUE: France is using its speedy trains to shuttle patients to less-strained hospitals and medics to virus zones in need.

A boy in a wetsuit takes advantage of the ban on recreational boats and jumps into one of the normally crowded canals on a warm spring day in the city center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sunday, April 5, 2020. The Dutch appeared to heed government directives to stay clear of forests beaches and parks to avoid large crowds and the risk of spreading the coronavirus. (AP PhotoPeter Dejong)

Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

A Catholic nun wearing a face mask, to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, walks inside the the empty Holy Family Minor Basilica cathedral after a Palm Sunday mass that was broadcast on television but had no congregation attending, in Nairobi, Kenya Sunday, April 5, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP PhotoBrian Inganga)

A resident wearing a mask against the coronavirus checks his phone near a sealed off community in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Sunday, April 5, 2020. The quarantine in the city which is the epicenter of China's coronavirus outbreak is to be formally lifted on Wednesday. (AP PhotoNg Han Guan)