Another 6.6M Americans File for Unemployment Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter
April 9, 2020
A staggering 6.6 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week as the U.S. suffered another deadly day of the coronavirus pandemic with nearly 2,000 killed on Wednesday alone. Currently, the nationwide death toll is creeping up on 15,000, with more than 432,000 people in the United States testing positive for COVID-19, data collected by Johns Hopkins University shows.
The number of recovered patients from the coronavirus also went up, with 24,125 people having recovered from the deadly respiratory illness since the outbreak began.
Worldwide, the number of infections neared 1.5 million, with more than 89,000 people killed. At least 337,000 people globally have recovered from the virus.
Here is your COVID-19 update for Thursday, April 9:
Another 6.6 Million Americans Filed For Unemployment Last Week
As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the American economy, another 6.6 million workers filed first-time unemployment claims for the week ending April 4, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. That brings the three-week cumulative total of unemployment claims to an incredible 16 million over the last three weeks - or roughly 10% of the American labor force.
The country's robust economy was shattered more than three weeks ago as COVID-19 began to rapidly spread in the country and state and local governments began issuing orders for people to stay at home and to practice social distancing in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus.
For the week ending March 21, 3.3 million American workers filed unemployment claims. A week later, that number doubled, with 6.6 million workers filing for unemployment. That number was revised upward this week, to 6.9 million.
According to data collected by the Labor Department, the economy lost some 701,000 jobs in March, which economists say doesn't yet reflect the true chaos the labor market saw during the final two weeks of March.
Job losses were initially concentrated among jobs that deal with the public, such as restaurants, retail and hospitality. But now other industries are beginning to feel the pinch, with job losses spread over more categories, including manufacturing, construction and the energy sector, which has been roiled by a recent price war between the oil producing countries of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The battered economy has raised questions about when rules about social distancing and stay-at-home orders might last, which has so far, remained an unanswered question at best. Officials at the White House are considering whether to extend its recommendations that Americans practice social distancing past the current date of April 30. However, Attorney General Bill Barr said in an interview on Fox News Wednesday that officials were being "very careful to make sure... that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified, and there are not alternative ways of protecting people."
Barr said that after the 30-day period for the Trump administration's coronavirus mitigation measures, he said he believed that the government would have to "allow people to adapt more than we have and not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed..."
Economists expect the economy to contract by 22 percent on a quarter-to-quarter basis, with signs of a recovery from the recession likely beginning to emerge by the third quarter.
Lawmakers in Congress passed a $2.2 economic stimulus bill aimed at combating some of the worst damage brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Not only does the bill contain expanded unemployment benefits and money for small businesses, one-time payments of $1,200 will be sent to individuals making up to $75,000 and $2,400 to couples making up to $150,000. Millions of Americans will begin seeing those checks hit their bank accounts by next week, with some seeing them as early as today or Friday.
"For security reasons, the IRS plans to mail a letter about the economic impact payment to the taxpayer’s last known address within 15 days after the payment is paid," the IRS stated on its website about the stimulus payments. "The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If a taxpayer is unsure, they’re receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov first to protect against scam artists."
Coronavirus Death Toll in U.S. Nears 15,000 as New York Reports More Cases Than Any Other Country
The death toll from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 spiked again on Wednesday with nearly 2,000 people in the U.S. killed in a single day - a second record high for deaths. Nationwide, there have been at least 431,000 cases confirmed with 14,757 dead as of Thursday morning, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
New York, one of the hardest hit areas in the country, has recorded 151,598 cases, far more than any other state in the country and even any other country in the world (besides the United States). However, officials are pointing to signs that the infection rate in New York may be flattening as the number of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and intubations leveling off over the last few days.
"We are flattening the curve because we are rigorous about social distancing," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a briefing Wednesday. "But this is not a time to get complacent."
Meanwhile, a new study from Mount Sinai found that the first cases of COVID-19 in New York City most likely originated out of Europe and other parts of the United States. Researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) sequenced 90 complete coronavirus genomes from 84 cases currently in the Mount Sinai Health System, a release from the school stated.
The cases were identified up to March 18 and came from two towns located in Westchester County
"Taken together, these results show that SARS-CoV-2 came to New York City and environs predominately via untracked transmission between the United States and Europe, with only limited introduction from China, where the virus originated, or other locations in Asia," the release said.
Researchers state that New York City likely saw community transmission early on in the outbreak, before March 18. The first case of COVID-19 was discovered in New York City on Feb. 29.
Sailor Assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt in Intensive Care
A sailor aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt had to be rushed to the Intensive Care Unit this week after he was discovered unresponsive in his room.
“A U.S. Navy Sailor assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the U.S. Naval Hospital Guam April 9. The Sailor tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30 and at the time of hospitalization was in a 14-day isolation period on Naval Base Guam," a statement from the Navy said.
At least 416 sailors on the vessel have tested positive for COVID-19, with 97% of the crew having been tested over the last few days.
The ship was formerly under the command of Capt. Brett Crozier, who was relieved last week after he sounded the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 on his ship in a memo that was leaked to the media.
Federal Stockpile of Personal Protective Equipment Nearly Gone, New Report Shows
According to documents released by the House Oversight Committee Wednesday, the national stockpile of N95 respirators, surgical and face masks, face shields, gowns and gloves is 90% depleted after the Department of Health and Human Services made their final shipments to states.
The remaining 10% of the stockpile of PPE are being reserved for federal workers and will not be sent to the states, HHS said.
HHS distributed 11.7 million N95 respirator masks and 7,920 ventilators to states. However, health experts say that's a small fraction of what will be needed as the coronavirus outbreak peaks across the nation.
President Donald Trump says the national stockpile of PPE should be sufficient for states to combat the virus.
"We took over a stockpile where the cupboard was bare and where the testing system was broken and old. And we redid it," Trump said during Tuesday's coronavirus task force briefing.
HHS also said Wednesday that General Motors would begin manufacturing ventilators and personal protective equipment, with 30,000 ventilators due to be delivered by August. GM will be reimbursed nearly $490 million by the federal government for the order.
“Invoking the Defense Production Act to secure ventilator production from GM and other companies is a part of President Trump’s all-of-America approach to combating the coronavirus," Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. "By rating contracts under the DPA, HHS is helping manufacturers like GM get the supplies they need to produce ventilators as quickly as possible, while also ensuring that these ventilators are routed through the Strategic National Stockpile to where they’re needed most. The Trump Administration has deployed thousands of ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile that have helped save lives in hotspots such as New York so far. We’re grateful to the GM team for working with the federal government to expand our nation’s supply of ventilators as the pandemic evolves."
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Photos: Getty Images