Coronavirus Live Updates: Jobless Claims Surpass 16 Million; Aid Package Stalls in Senate

The Four Percent


As millions more Americans lose their jobs, more federal aid is uncertain.

The harsh economic toll of the social distancing measures put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic was underscored on Thursday when the Labor Department reported that another 6.6 million people had filed for unemployment benefits last week.

That brought the number of Americans who had lost their jobs over the past three weeks to more than 16 million, which is more job losses than the most recent recession produced over two years. The dire figures suggested that Washington’s recent $2 trillion relief package was not working quickly enough to halt the economic devastation and the hemorrhaging of jobs in nearly every type of industry.

But efforts to bolster the relief package stalled in Washington. The Trump administration asked Congress to quickly approve $250 billion in spending to replenish a new loan program for distressed small businesses, but it hit a roadblock in the Senate on Thursday morning after Republicans and Democrats clashed over what to include.

Democrats want to double the size of the new emergency relief bill by adding $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments, which are facing enormous shortfalls as the outbreak drives their expenses up and their tax collections down.

Republicans argued that the small business program had a more urgent need for funds, and that additional demands for aid could be addressed in future legislation.

With Congress in recess and lawmakers scattered around the country, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, tried to push through the small business loan funding during a procedural session, a maneuver that would have required all senators to agree. But Democrats objected.

The House, which is scheduled to convene Friday in a procedural session, is not expected to try to pass either party’s proposal.

The White House coronavirus task force released a breakdown of testing data on Thursday, further confirming that older people are the most likely to contract it.

Among people who were tested:

  • 11 percent of those under 25 were positive.

  • 17 percent of those between 25 and 45 were positive.

  • 21 percent of those between 45 and 65 were positive.

  • 22 percent of those between 65 and 85 were positive.

  • 24 percent of those over 85 were positive.

Tests for the coronavirus are provided if people show symptoms such as a dry cough, fever or shortness of breath. Women are slightly more likely to get tested than men, although men seem to be more susceptible to the coronavirus, said Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House. Among women who were tested, 16 percent were positive; 23 percent of men who were tested had coronavirus infections.

The data, while disturbing, does not come entirely as a surprise. Similar trends have been observed in China and Italy, where men were both infected and succumbed to the coronavirus at higher rates than women.

“To all of our men out there, no matter what age group, if you have symptoms, you should be tested,” Dr. Birx said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and others including Russia on Thursday reached an agreement to temporarily cut large volumes of production, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

OPEC and the other oil-producing countries agreed to cut about 10 million barrels a day, or about 10 percent from normal production levels, in May and June, said this person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made official.

Possible further trims could come from a meeting of the Group of 20 nations on Friday.

The Saudis have been engaged in a price war with Russia after Moscow refused to go along with a Saudi proposal in early March to trim output to deal with the effects of the pandemic. The spat threatened to swamp oil markets with vast oversupplies of crude.

Still, crude oil prices fell sharply on Thursday afternoon, in part because the production cuts were not expected to offset the fact that slowing economies and virus-related shutdowns have dampened demand for oil.

Stocks rose on Thursday after the Federal Reserve announced an expansion of its emergency lending powers in another bid to backstop the U.S. economy, but the gains faded in the afternoon after oil prices fell and shares of energy companies followed.

Still, the S&P 500 rose about 1.5 percent, bringing its gains this week to 12 percent. Markets in the U.S. are closed on Friday, ahead of Easter.

Although the governor said that some data, like the shrinking number of hospital admissions, suggested that New York was making headway, he warned against relaxing compliance with restrictions.

“The moment you stop following the policies, you will go right back and see that number shoot through the roof,” Mr. Cuomo.

At the same time, other New York officials have begun to cautiously envision an eventual return to some normalcy.

With transmission still widespread, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said Thursday that he thought the city could move as early as mid-May to the next stage: one with low-level spread of the virus, in which cases could be more easily traced.

“We can say that it’s time to start planning for the next phase very overtly,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference.

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey on Thursday cited progress in the fight against the virus, even as he reported that another 198 people in the state had died.

Six of the nation’s poorest states are in the South, and the region is home to seven of the 10 unhealthiest states, according to the latest annual ranking by the United Health Foundation, which takes into account a mix of public health policy, environmental conditions and behaviors.

“I really don’t think we can say strongly enough that we are a uniquely vulnerable population here,” Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, said in a recent briefing.

Critics said governors who delayed issuing orders to keep residents at home created a disadvantage in confronting the pandemic. All but one of the southern states has since announced shelter-in-place orders, with Arkansas the lone holdout.

California’s decision to ship hundreds of ventilators to other states this week has been met with alarm by some local officials, who expressed concern about a shortage.

Earlier this week, workers packed the equipment for heavily hit states like New York and New Jersey and wrote messages of support on the boxes. “Prayers from the West Coast,” one read.

He said there were 1,132 people receiving intensive care as of Thursday, a 1.9 percent decrease from the day before.

“One data point is not a trend,” he warned. “One data point is not a headline, so I caution anybody to read too much into that one point of data, but nonetheless it is encouraging and it just again reinforces the incredible work that all of you are doing.”

The modeling curve of coronavirus cases, he said, had been “bent” by the efforts of Californians who have been following suggested practices like staying indoors, avoiding other people and washing their hands.

A Louisiana lawmaker becomes the latest state legislator to die from the virus.

A Louisiana state representative died this week from the coronavirus, according to his son, the latest sign that the pandemic is making incursions into the nation’s state legislatures.

The representative, Reggie Paul Bagala, was elected last year to represent Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes.

Mr. Bagala, a conservative businessman who also worked in local government, had been on a ventilator at Ochsner St. Anne Hospital in Raceland, La., according to his son, Tristan Paul Bagala, who had chronicled his father’s battle with the virus on Facebook. He was 54, according to

Mr. Bagala was at least the second state lawmaker nationwide to die of the virus.

On April 3, Bob Glanzer, a Republican state representative from South Dakota, died at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls. He was 74 and had served in the South Dakota House of Representatives since 2017, according to Gov. Kristi Noem.

Thirteen cruise ship passengers who have been on board the Coral Princess for more than a month will have to spend two weeks in quarantine at sea with the crew, because travel restrictions in their countries of origin prevent them from going home, the cruise line said Thursday.

The authorities in Miami, where the ship has been docked since Saturday, have not allowed the passengers to stay in local hotels, the company said.

The Coral Princess, a ship owned by the Carnival Corporation, arrived in Florida last week with more than 1,000 passengers on board — two of them dead and at least a dozen with positive tests for the coronavirus. A third passenger waited hours on the dock for an ambulance and later died in a Miami hospital.

European Union finance ministers on Thursday agreed to the outlines of a loan package worth more than half a trillion euros to help the bloc’s nations relieve the severe economic blow from the pandemic.

The measures, which must be approved by the bloc’s leaders, could total up to €540 billion, or $590 billion, a show of solidarity as the economic and health crisis brought on by the virus strains bonds among the member countries.

The agreement includes €100 billion to fund unemployment benefits, €200 billion for loans to smaller businesses, and up to €240 billion lent by the Eurozone’s bailout fund to member states, to cover potentially crippling health care-related costs.

Some details, most notably on the terms and conditions of loans to countries from the bailout fund, were still unclear and could prove contentious. Countries like Italy that are likely to tap those loans want to ensure they don’t come with austerity conditions attached.

The ministers did not agree to issue bonds backed by the entire bloc, which had come to be known as “coronabonds,” in a defeat for Italy and Spain, the two worst-hit countries. Germany, the Netherlands and other richer northern European countries had staunchly opposed joint debt issuance.

In the race for virus drugs, a scientist on the front lines is urging caution.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, Dr. Kalil said, have never been found to work against any viral disease, including Ebola. (Malaria is caused by a parasite, not a virus.) And the drugs have side effects, some of which could be fatal.

“How many more have to fight for their life, how many more families got to suffer before they realize we are more important than their production,” asked Tanisha Isom, 36, a deboner at a Tyson poultry plant in Camilla, Ga., where three workers have died in recent days. She recently learned she had bronchitis and missed two weeks of work.

At some plants, workers have staged walkouts over concerns that they are not being properly protected. Industry analysts said the plant closures were unlikely to result in serious disruptions to the food supply.

Need ways to preserve special days during this time? Check these out.

Stay-at-home orders don’t have to put a damper on things. Here are some ways to celebrate birthdays, weddings and the coming spring holidays.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Brooks Barnes, Dan Barry, Alan Blinder, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Michael Cooper, Nick Corasaniti, Jill Cowan, Caitlin Dickerson, Scott Dodd, Conor Dougherty, Manny Fernandez, Sheri Fink, Matthew Haag, Maggie Haberman, Miriam Jordan, Mark Landler, Michael Levenson, Sarah Mervosh, Andy Newman, Stanley Reed, Frances Robles, Simon Romero, Jim Rutenberg, Marc Santora, Knvul Sheikh, Jeanna Smialek, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Eileen Sullivan, David Waldstein and Carl Zimmer.


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