Virus in brief: Survivors donate blood as possible serum, and more to know today about steps to stop a pandemic
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Virus in brief: Survivors donate blood as possible serum, and more to know today about steps to stop a pandemic

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Doctors around the world are dusting off a century-old treatment for infections: Infusions of blood plasma teeming with immune molecules that helped survivors beat the new coronavirus. There’s no proof it will work. But former patients in Houston and New York were early donors, and now hospitals and blood centers are getting ready for potentially hundreds of survivors to follow.

The Food and Drug Administration Friday announced a national study, led by the Mayo Clinic, that will help hospitals offer the experimental plasma therapy and track how they fare. The American Red Cross will help collect and distribute the plasma.

When infection strikes, the body starts making proteins called antibodies specially designed to target that germ. Those antibodies float in survivors’ blood — specifically plasma, the yellowish liquid part of blood — for months, even years.

Meanwhile, the U.S. recorded 1,000 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, according to figures maintained by Johns Hopkins University, a grim milestone in the nation’s war to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The figure increases the national death count to 6,699. New York remains the hardest-hit area, with 2,935 deaths so far. In California, at least 250 have died.

Among other developments overnight and this morning:

  • The CDC now advises all Americans to wear cloth masks in public to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Some states and cities that have been shipped masks, gloves, ventilators and other essential equipment from the nation's medical stockpile to fight the coronavirus have gotten an unwelcome surprise: the material is aged and unusable.
  • President Donald Trump said the stockpile is only a short-term backup for states, not a commitment to ensure supplies get quickly to those who need them most during an emergency.
  • Airlines must fully refund airfare to passengers whose flights have been canceled during the outbreak, the U.S. Transportation Department ordered.
  • To enforce social distancing, Walmart announces it will now admit customers to its stores one-by-one, with restrictions that will limit the average store to roughly 20% of capacity.
  • Singer Pink says she had COVID-19 and is donating $500,000 each to two emergency funds.
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper backed the Navy's firing of the commander of a coronavirus-striken aircraft carrier, after the crew of the vessel hailed their captain as a hero.

For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for helpful tips, maps tracking virus spread, and more.

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For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate fever and cough. It can cause more severe illness including pneumonia for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

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