WASHINGTON (AP/WCMH)– President Donald Trump and his coronavirus task force held their daily press briefing at the White House as a new round of unemployment numbers are released for the county in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the press briefing, Congress delivered a nearly $500 billion infusion of coronavirus spending, rushing new relief to employers and hospitals buckling under the strain of a pandemic that has claimed almost 50,000 American lives and one in six U.S. jobs.
Anchoring the bill is the Trump administration’s $250 billion funding request to replenish a fund to help small- and medium-size businesses with payroll, rent and other expenses. The payroll program provides forgivable loans so businesses can continue paying workers while forced to stay closed for social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
President Donald Trump celebrated the bill’s passage at his daily White House briefing Thursday. “At a time when many Americans are enduring significant economic challenges, this bill will help small businesses to keep millions of workers on the payroll,” he said.
Unemployment in the U.S. is swelling to levels last seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s, with 1 in 6 American workers thrown out of a job by the coronavirus.
More than 4.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the government said Thursday. In all, roughly 26 million people — the population of the 10 biggest U.S. cities combined — have now filed for jobless aid in five weeks, an epic collapse that has raised the stakes in the debate over how and when to ease the shutdowns of factories and other businesses.
Globally, there are nearly 2.7 million confirmed cases of the virus with the United States leading worldwide numbers with 860,000 cases and nearly 47,000 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine coronavirus resource center.
In the hardest-hit corner of the U.S., evidence emerged that perhaps 2.7 million New York state residents have been infected by the virus — 10 times the number confirmed by lab tests.
A small, preliminary statewide survey of around 3,000 people found that nearly 14% had antibodies suggesting they had been exposed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Just in New York City, with a population of 8.6 million, Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said as many as 1 million may have been exposed.
In Washington, many House lawmakers wore face masks and bandannas — and some sat in the otherwise vacant visitors gallery to stay away from others — as they debated a nearly $500 billion measure to help businesses and hospitals weather the crisis. The package was expected to win final approval later in the day, then advance to President Donald Trump for his signature.
Wednesday the president signed an executive order to temporarily stop foreigners from getting green cards.