What you need to know today about the coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump has backed away from calling for a quarantine for coronavirus hotspots in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, instead directing Saturday night that a “strong Travel Advisory” be issued to stem the spread of the outbreak.

Trump’s talk earlier Saturday of what he called a quarantine for those hard-hit areas raised questions whether the federal government had the power to do so. Vice President Mike Pence has since tweeted federal health officials are urging residents of the three states “to refrain from non-essential travel for the next 14 days.”

FULL COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS

The United States has more confirmed coronavirus infections than any other country. Cities including Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are growing as hot spots of infection, while New York City continues to be pummeled. Nurses there are calling for more masks and other gear to safeguard themselves against the virus that has so far sickened more than 52,000 people and killed over 700 in New York state, mostly in the city. Italy’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is the highest in the world, with 10,000 fatalities.

Here are some of today's top stories on the world’s coronavirus pandemic.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) heavily infected with the SARS-COV-2 virus particles (purple), isolated from a patient sample. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH)

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY

— The coronavirus continued its unrelenting spread across the U.S. with fatalities doubling in two days to more than 2,000 and authorities saying Saturday an infant who tested positive died in Chicago. Elsewhere, Russia announced a full border closure and prevention measures turned violent in parts of Africa, with Kenyan police firing tear gas and officers elsewhere seen on video striking people with batons.

— Health experts say U.S. prisons and jails are a potential epicenter for the coronavirus: Social distancing is nearly impossible, medical services behind bars have long been substandard and even hand sanitizer is deemed contraband in some because of its alcohol content.

— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has delayed the state’s presidential primary from April to June to keep people from gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. More than a dozen states have delayed some elections, in some cases including their presidential primaries.

— Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board domestic flights or intercity trains. Trudeau’s wife tested positive for the virus but she said Saturday she has recovered.

— Census workers in the U.S. have to take a different approach to collecting information. Nonprofits and civic organizations leading census outreach efforts are pivoting to digital strategies.

— Brazil’s president is being sharply criticized for downplaying the pandemic, even suggesting Brazilians have a natural immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19.

— U.S. child welfare agencies are confronting new challenges. Many agencies, seeking to limit the virus’s spread, have cut back on in-person inspections at homes of children considered at risk of abuse and neglect.

— More than a fifth of Detroit’s police force is being quarantined after two officers died from the virus and at least 39 tested positive, including the chief.

— The coronavirus pandemic is defining for the globe what’s “essential” and what things we really can’t do without, even though we might not need them for survival.

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This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (NIAID-RML)

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.

Misinformation overload: How to separate fact from fiction and rumor from deliberate efforts to mislead.

ONE NUMBER

2.2 MILLION: More than 2.2 million people are imprisoned in America, more than any other place in the world. Health experts say prisons and jails are a potential epicenter for America’s coronavirus pandemic.

TRACKING THE VIRUS

The map below illustrates where confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus exist across the world.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.