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COVID-19: 16.8 million Americans out of work



NEW YORK: A staggering 16.8 million Americans lost their jobs in just three weeks, a measure of how fast the coronavirus has brought world economies to their knees.

New York state reported a record-breaking number of dead for a third straight day, 799. More than 7,000 people have died in the state, accounting for almost half the U.S. death toll of more than 16,000.

“That is so shocking and painful and breathtaking, I don’t even have the words for it,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

But he added that there are hopeful signs, including slowdowns in the number of people being hospitalized, admitted to intensive care and placed on ventilators.

He said the onslaught of patients has not been as big as feared and hospitals are standing up to the strain so far. About 18,000 people were hospitalized, well short of the 90,000 hospital beds statewide, many of which were hurriedly lined up at a convention centre and a Navy ship docked in the city.

And still more job cuts are expected. The U.S. unemployment rate in April could hit 15% — a number not seen since the end of the Great Depression.

President Donald Trump has brushed off fears the economy won’t quickly rebound after the crisis, as he has predicted, saying he had a “strong feeling” that “the economy is going to do very well.”

“I think that what’s going to happen is we’re going to have a big bounce, rather than a small bounce,” he told reporters. “I think we’re going to open up strong.”

Trump said he’d met with his treasury and transportation secretaries Thursday about a proposal to help support struggling airlines and that he likely would put out a proposal over the weekend.

The U.S. Federal Reserve announced it will provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans targeted toward both households and businesses.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-diseases expert, shot down hopes that warmer spring weather would bring an end to the crisis.

“One should not assume that we are going to be rescued by a change in the weather,” he said. “You must assume that the virus will continue to do its thing.”

— AP





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