As the U.S. moves past 32,000 coronavirus deaths, our team in Washington, D.C. is examining the issues that likely won’t be featured tonight during primetime cable news — including the struggle states might experience to reopen and relief funds running out for small businesses. You can watch their original reporting in the video above.
The ranks of America’s unemployed swelled toward Great Depression-era levels Thursday, and President Donald Trump reacted to the pressure on the economy by outlining a phased approach to reopening parts of the country where the coronavirus is being brought under control.
Under the plan, presented by Trump in a call with the nation’s governors, the president will ease his social-distancing guidelines to allow states to start getting back to business over the next several weeks in places that have strong testing and have seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases.
“You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told the governors, according to an audio recording obtained by The Associated Press, after a week in which he clashed with them over his claim that he has “total” authority over how and when the country reopens.
The move came on the same day the government reported 5.2 million more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the four-week total to 22 million — easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record. The losses translate to about 1 in 7 American workers.
While many Americans have chafed at the damage to their livelihoods, business leaders and governors have warned that more testing and protective gear are needed before they can start lifting the lockdowns and other restrictions that have all but strangled the economy. Health experts have cautioned that easing restrictions too soon could allow the virus to come storming back.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)