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Jobless claims jump by 70,000 as virus starts to take hold

The U.S. Treasury has proposed delivering $500 billion in check payments to millions of Americans as the centerpiece of a $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy.
Credit: AP
Visitors to the Department of Labor are turned away at the door by personnel due to closures over coronavirus concerns, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in New York. Applications for jobless benefits are surging in some states as coronavirus concerns shake the U.S. economy. The sharp increase comes as governments have ordered millions of workers, students and shoppers to stay home as a precaution against spreading the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits surged last week by 70,000, indicating that the impact of the coronavirus was starting to be felt in rising layoffs in the job market. 

The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for benefits, a good proxy for layoffs, rose by 70,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 last week.

Some states, like Ohio, have reported large jumps in unemployment applications. The state has broadened unemployment requirements to include individuals quarantined by a health professional or by their employer and companies that have to temporarily shut down operations. The 1-week waiting period to receive benefits was also waived. 

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The U.S. Treasury has proposed delivering $500 billion in check payments to millions of Americans. The payments are the centerpiece of a $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy amid the pandemic.

According to the proposal, if it goes through, the first round of checks would be arriving in the mail boxes of people across the country starting April 6. A second wave would go out in mid-May.

According to a tracker from John Hopkins University, there are more than 9,400 cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States. 150 people have died and 106 recovered.

The majority of people who have the new coronavirus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, will get better without any long-term effects, according to an Oregon doctor.

About 80% of cases tend to be mild. In these cases, symptoms diminish over five to seven days, although people are still capable of transmitting the disease. But there are many people with a higher risk of having a more severe disease if they are diagnosed with coronavirus, including those with heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other vascular disease problems. Also, most children who get it have mild symptoms.