US nears 50,000 virus fatalities after 3,176 deaths in 24 hours: Johns Hopkins

The novel coronavirus has killed nearly 50,000 people in the United States, after one of the deadliest days of the pandemic which saw 3,176 deaths, according to a tally Thursday from Johns Hopkins University.

The deaths were recorded in the 24 hours up to 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Friday), bringing the overall coronavirus death toll in the United States to 49,759, according to the Baltimore-based university.

The US, the worst-hit country in the world, now has 866,646 confirmed cases of coronavirus, up 26,971 from the previous day.

Due to a lack of testing, the actual number of infections is likely to be much higher.

Last week, the country recorded two consecutive days of high death tolls — 4,591 on Thursday and 3,856 on Friday. But those numbers were believed to include “probable” coronavirus deaths that had not been previously included in the count.

Outside of those two days, Thursday s toll of 3,176 marked the deadliest day yet in any country amid the global pandemic which has claimed nearly 190,000 lives.

Despite the alarming figures, several US states such as Georgia and Texas were preparing to reopen some businesses as they started lifting lockdown measures.

– House passes $483 bn stimulus as US job losses soar –

The House of Representatives passed a new $483 billion economic stimulus bill Thursday as US job losses due to the coronavirus soared and businesses clamored for more support.

The House voted overwhelmingly for the bill, already passed by the Senate, and President Donald Trump indicated he would quickly sign it into law to pump more emergency funding into the world s largest economy.

The bill came as another 4.4 million US workers filed new claims for jobless benefits, bringing the total to 26.4 million since mid-March.

Unemployment has rocketed as much of the nation shut down to stall the spread of the virus, which has taken about 48,000 lives across the country since February.

The House vote capped two weeks of wrangling by Democrats and Republicans over how to add to the massive $2.2 trillion CARES act enacted in late March to support businesses and families hit hard by shutdowns and layoffs.

The unemployment claims figures released Thursday show that layoffs have continued at a high rate for a fifth week, despite help from Congress.

The new package would provide another $320 billion for small businesses to keep their doors open and pay their workers, after the initial $349 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program was drained in just two weeks.

The new funding will also provide $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion to expand virus testing and $60 billion in disaster recovery loans and grants.

Lawmakers donned masks to enter the House in small groups to comment on the legislation and then to vote, with the chamber emptied out for a sweeping sterilization halfway through the session.

– To open or not to open? –

The fresh funding, which is driving up the US government s financial deficit, comes as individual states and communities mulled reopening businesses and allowing the public to return slowly to the streets.

Business owners and economists have said that without confident consumers willing to go out and spend, reopening shops and restaurants will have little effect.

In states where the outbreak has been less severe, governors are beginning the slow process of returning to normal, some in response to a spate of anti-lockdown protests.

But their measures are being called into question — and Trump specifically criticized a decision by Georgia s governor to open hair salons, tattoo parlors and gyms in the state from Friday.

A CBS News poll released Thursday said 63 percent of Americans were more concerned about lifting the restrictions too soon and intensifying the outbreak than about the consequences to the economy of maintaining them for too long.

Meanwhile, only 13 percent said they would return to public places if restrictions were lifted right now.

– Double-digit unemployment –

Calling the jobless figure “extraordinarily elevated,” Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics predicted the US was on track for a spike in the unemployment rate to 24 percent.

That is a reversal of fortune that was unthinkable at the beginning of the year, when the rate was in the low single digits.

“While there is great uncertainty surrounding the magnitude of the job losses in April, we expect a total decline of around 24 million that will touch a wide range of jobs, but be concentrated in the accommodation and food services, recreation, retail and transportation sectors,” she wrote in an analysis.

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