Unemployment continues to soar as economic aid begins » New unemployment numbers released Thursday showed more than six-and-a-half million U.S. workers filed for jobless benefits last week. That as a wave of coronavirus layoffs and furloughs continues to sweep the country.
At the White House Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said Americans are beginning to receive a portion of the $2.2 trillion relief package. A program designed to help small businesses keep workers on the payroll is online.
PENCE: The Paycheck Protection Program now in day five; reporting $125 billion has been approved so far. 30,000 new individual users and 3,900 lenders are participating.
And he said direct payments to Americans are still on track to go out by the end of next week. Most individuals will receive a one-time $1,200 payment, along with $500 per child.
And President Trump said more help is on the way.
TRUMP: The Federal Reserve announced this morning that it will provide up to $2.3 trillion dollars in support to businesses, states and local governments. $600 billion dollars in loans will be available for midsize businesses with up to 10,000 employees.
He also said the government is waiving student loan payments for six months.
Republicans, Democrats clash on additional coronavirus aid funding » Meantime, more infighting on Capitol Hill Thursday as lawmakers debated additional coronavirus aid. Democrats torpedoed a Republican Senate bill that would have added $250 billion to a small business payroll fund. And Republicans refused Democrats’ demand for another $250 billion for hospitals and states.
On the Senate floor Thursday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell complained that Democrats are playing politics with a program needed to keep Americans employed.
MCCONNELL: The distinguished Democratic leader and the speaker of the House sought to use this crucial program to open broader negotiations on other topics, including parts of the CARES Act where literally—listen to this Mr. President—literally no money has gone out the door yet.
Speaker Pelosi called McConnell’s $250 billion request a “stunt.” She said McConnell and the White House were trying to ram a bill through Congress with little data to back it up.
PELOSI: There are outstanding needs. What we should have been doing, and what we offered to do, was to sit down and figure out what the numbers are that are needed most urgently.
But both Democrats and Republicans agree more aid will be needed, and talks will continue.
NY again sees record coronavirus deaths even as curve flattens » New York state reported a record number of coronavirus deaths for a third straight day on Wednesday, 799. More than 7,000 New Yorkers have now died since the coronavirus arrived in the state.
Most of the confirmed cases are in New York City. And Mayor Bill de Blasio said a big part of the problem has been a lack of testing.
DE BLASIO: We have had to, from day one, ration testing in a way none of us wanted to do.
He said the city still needs more coronavirus testing capacity.
Despite the worsening death toll, Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York City’s hospitals have so far stood up under the enormous strain. And in fact, the increase in hospitalizations is down.
CUOMO: The hospitalization rate does suggest that it is coming down, and we are flattening the curve. We had 200 net increase in hospitalizations, which you can see is the lowest number we’ve had since this nightmare started.
Cuomo said that’s good news, but he warned this is not time to relax. He noted that the tragic death toll is a result of interactions before the government put restrictions in place to slow the spread. And the death toll will drop only if New Yorkers continue to follow the instructions of health officials and maintain social distancing.
Navy sailor from coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier in ICU » A sailor from the USS Theodore Roosevelt is now in an intensive care unit at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam after contracting the coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier.
General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday—quote—“We’re hoping that that sailor recovers. We’re praying for him and his family and his shipmates.”
He said the Navy has now tested almost the entire crew of the ship.
HYTEN: We still have about a thousand tests left to report out, but 3,170 of the crew tested negative. 416 have tested positive.
The carrier is now docked in Guam.
British prime minister out of ICU » Meantime, on Thursday doctors moved British Prime Minister Boris Johnson out of intensive care. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Johnson’s office said the prime minister’s condition continues to improve. And a spokesman said he has been moved out of the ICU “back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.”
Johnson checked into a London hospital last Sunday when symptoms didn’t improve 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. The next night, doctors moved him to the intensive care unit after his condition worsened.
Officials said doctors placed Johnson on oxygen but he was breathing on his own without a ventilator.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.