2.4 million more Americans file for unemployment benefits
Donald Trump and his Republican allies have railed against China in effort to shift the blame the roiling epidemic in the United States and the severe toll it has taken on the economy.Updated: May 21, 2020 21:28 IST
President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of spreading “disinformation” about the Covid-10 pandemic on orders emanating “from the top”, a reference perhaps to President Xi Jinping.
Trump and his Republican allies have railed against China in effort to shift the blame the roiling epidemic in the United States and the severe toll it has taken on the economy.
“Its disinformation and propaganda attack on the United States and Europe is a disgrace,” Trump tweeted late night, reacting to a statement from a Chinese government spokesperson.
“It all comes from the top,” he went on to say in a rare attack on the Chinese president. “They could have easily stopped the plague, but they didn’t!”
Thursday morning, the US labor department reported more than 2.4 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, taking up the total of those laid off in the nine weeks of Covid-19 lockdowns to 38.6 million.
The new weekly layoff number was lower than the revised total for last week of 2.6 million. Though it has continued to decline from the peak of 6.7 million in March end, layoffs have not ceased with businesses downsizing operation or shutting down completely every day, taking a severe toll on the economy.
New infections and fatalities have also dropped considerably allowing all 50 states to reopen by partially lifting restrictions. But normalcy is not in sight yet.
The United States is now staring at the 100,000 fatalities mark, as the toll went up up to 93,471 Thursday with 1,518 deaths in the last 24 hours. Infections rose by 23,285 to 1.55 million over the same period. Democratic congressional leaders have asked the president to order the national flag to fly at half most on public buildings when the toll crosses 100,000.
Though New York city, the epicenter of the American epidemic, continues to improve. But governor Andrew Cuomo has said new coronavirus cases continue to spread among lower income and minority communities. Of 8,000 antibody tests conducted in those areas found an infection rate of 34% in the Bronx, 29% in Brooklyn and 25% in Queens; which were way higher than the citywide average off 19.9%.
Meanwhile, a new study has shown that thousands of lives would have been saved if the United States had started locking down its cities earlier than it did. If the lockdown had started on March 1, 54,000 fewer people would have died, the study by Columbian University said. And toll would have been 36,000 less if the curbs went into effect just a week before they did on March 16.
And Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said he cannot rule out a second wave of Covid-19 cases later in the year during the usual flu seas next winter. “We’ve seen evidence that the concerns it would go south in the southern hemisphere like flu (are coming true), and you’re seeing what’s happening in Brazil now,” Redfield told Financial Times Wednesday. “And then when the southern hemisphere is over I suspect it will reground itself in the north.” He had earlier said the second wave could be more devastating.