California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday night ordered the entire state to stay home to help thwart the new coronavirus. That means Californians may still leave their homes to obtain essential goods and services.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, farmers markets, food banks, gas stations, banks and laundromats are among the “essential services” that may continue operating under the order.
“This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time,” Newsom said. “We will meet this moment together and we will look back at these kinds of decisions as pivotal decisions.”
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In another major development, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed direct payments of $1,200 per person and $2,400 for couples as part of an initial Republican response Thursday to the new coronavirus outbreak.
The GOP leader unveiled his plan as Congress raced to craft a $1 trillion rescue package to shore up households, healthcare and the U.S. economy amid the pandemic crisis and nationwide shutdown that’s hurtling the country toward a likely recession.
Under the GOP leader’s plan, the aid would be phased out at income thresholds of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple. Additionally, there would be $500 payments for each child.
McConnell’s proposal aligns with the Trump administration’s push to swiftly send a first round of checks to American households for immediate needs.
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Additionally, the McConnell plan would provide $300 billion in loans to small businesses, including loans that would eventually be forgiven for employers who use them to meet payroll expenses.
Democrats have their own proposals for ushering aid to Americans, and even McConnell’s GOP senators panned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s idea of direct checks of $3,000 for a family of four — preferring instead to use the federal dollars to keep workers who are asked to stay home on the business payrolls.
Thursday’s work on the measure comes as the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits surged last week by 70,000, indicating that the impact of the new coronavirus was beginning to be felt in rising job layoffs, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Applications for benefits, a good indicator of layoffs, rose to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 last week, the Labor Department said. Both the one-week rise and the total number of applications were far above the levels seen over the past year as the nation’s unemployment rate fell to a half-century low of 3.5 percent.
The effects of coronavirus-related closures and layoffs are affecting workers in communities across the county. In Illinois, an order by Gov. J.B. Pritzker forced more than 25,000 restaurants and bars statewide that employ about 474,500 people to shut down in-house service for two weeks in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.
“This is a f—— disaster,” chef Kevin Hickey, owner of Duck Inn in Chicago, told Patch’s Mark Konkol. “We’re on Day 1 looking down the barrel at little to no income, scrambling to try to set up food delivery and pickup — which wasn’t a substantial part of our business, and even if it increased tenfold wouldn’t be enough to survive. … And we’re trying to do best by our employees.”
Also on Thursday, President Donald Trump called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fast-track potential treatment and therapies for the new coronavirus. Trump pointed to efforts on Gilead Sciences Inc.’s experimental antiviral drug Remdesivir and the generic antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, and called on the FDA to streamline its regulatory approval process, Reuters reported.
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