Friday morning news – April 3rd, 2020

6.6 more Americans apply for unemployment benefits » More than 6-and-a-half million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. That doubled a record high set one week earlier amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Only one month ago, weekly unemployment claims were near a 50-year low. Since then, they’ve jumped 30-fold—with 10 million layoffs in just a few weeks’ time. 

But at the White House on Thursday, President Trump said help is on the way, starting now. The Paycheck Protection Protection begins today. 

TRUMP: Nearly $350 billion in loans will be available to small businesses, including sole proprietors. 

GOP Senator Marco Rubio co-authored the provision of the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed last month. 

RUBIO: Which will allow a small business to go in and get 250 percent of their monthly payroll, which they can use and don’t have to pay back if they use it for payroll, benefits for employees, rent, lease, or utilities. 

Most small businesses, independent contractors, and many non-profit groups qualify for the program. 

Large employers will have more access to loans and can access a tax credit program for keeping employees on the payroll. 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the economic impact payments are also on the way. 

MNUCHIN: I had previously said this would take us three weeks. I’m pleased to announce that within two weeks, the first payments will be direct deposited into taxpayers’ accounts. 

The economic rescue package also added $600 a week in jobless aid, on top of what recipients get from their states. And the law makes many more people eligible for benefits, including the self-employed and so-called “gig economy” workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers.

Markets rise on hopes of ending oil price war » Wall Street didn’t seem overly rattled Thursday by the unemployment numbers as the spike in jobless claims was largely expected. And at the closing bell, the markets got a lift. 

AUDIO: [Sound of closing bell]

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 both gained more than two percent as oil prices rose. That came on hopes that Saudi Arabia and Russia are prepared to wind down the ongoing price war that slashed the global price of crude oil to less than half its normal value by oversupplying the market. That battle led to gas prices as low as $1.29 a gallon in parts of the United States, but hurt energy stocks. 

President Trump said Thursday that he had spoken with the Saudi crown prince who had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And Trump tweeted—quote—“I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more.”

Cruise ships with sick passengers dock in Florida » A cruise ship that has been floating at sea with coronavirus patients aboard for two weeks after being turned away from South American ports finally docked in Florida Thursday. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had been reluctant to let all passengers disembark but worked out an arrangement with local and federal officials. 

DESANTIS: We’ve worked with the local hospitals. And I know that we have one hospital that can take some of the critically ill. They have the capacity to do that. And I think that that can be done, and I think the numbers are such that it’s not going to necessarily overwhelm.

The Zaandam and a sister ship sent to help it, the Rotterdam, both disembarked passengers at Port Everglades. More than 200 people aboard the Zaandam reported flu-like symptoms. 

More than 300 Americans were aboard the ships, but most were foreign nationals. DeSantis said Thursday that foreign nationals would be bussed directly to an airport tarmac to take charter flights back to their home countries. 

Spain passes grim milestone, European hospitals running out of medicines » Spain passed a grim milestone on Thursday as hospitals in Europe warn they’re running out of critical medicines. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: More than 10,000 people have now died in Spain from COVID-19. That after the country had its biggest single-day spike in deaths—950 in one day. 

But Spain’s health minister said overall, the data show that “the curve has stabilized,” and the coronavirus is decelerating in the country. 

However, across Europe, the health crisis is far from over. Nine leading European university hospitals are sounding alarms about a shortage of supplies. They warn they will run out of essential medicines needed for COVID-19 patients in intensive care in less than two weeks and at the hardest-hit hospitals, as soon as two days.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Coronavirus forces Dem convention delay » Democrats announced Thursday that they are postponing their presidential nominating convention until August 17th. It was scheduled to happen in mid-July in Milwaukee. 

It’s an unprecedented move that shows how the coronavirus is reshaping the battle for the White House.

The party had hoped that a mid-July convention would give them more time to rally behind a nominee and unify against President Trump. The GOP convention is scheduled to begin August 24th in Charlotte.

The Democratic convention delay is the latest in a wave of big events either postponed or cancelled. 

Hollywood is also pushing back numerous would-be spring and summer blockbusters—a list that now includes the long awaited Top Gun sequel. 

TRAILER: The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind is headed for extinction. Maybe so sir, but not today. 

Top Gun: Maverick now has a December premiere date. Other big releases delayed include Wonder Woman 1984, A Quiet Place Part II and the latest installments in the Ghostbusters and James Bond franchises.

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) The cruise ship Rotterdam, right, passes the Zaandam, left, as it prepares to dock at Port Everglades, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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