WASHINGTON – In just three weeks, nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment.
One in ten Americans is now out of work.
In California this week, a long line of people waited in the rain for food, a scene repeated in other states.
Many states are struggling to keep up with the barrage of unemployment requests.
"How long it takes will vary by states," says Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia.
In Washington Thursday, Senate Republicans pushed for another $250 billion to help small businesses who desperately need it.
"We need more funding and we need it fast," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) during a speech on the floor.
However, Democrats blocked the aid. They're demanding a $500 billion bill to offer more to health care providers and state and local governments.
"This was in fact, designed to fail, designed as a political stunt," argued Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) from the Senate floor.
There's now fear the unemployment rate could hit 15% soon and White House officials, eager to stave off a severe recession, say companies in certain parts of the country that are free from outbreaks could reopen in May.
However, the decision to restart the economy is largely out of the federal government's hands as many governors have issued stay-at-home orders through the end of May or later.
"We're at the top of the hill. Pretty sure we're at the top of the hill and now we're going downward. In some cases we've already started that process," said President Trump Thursday during his daily coronavirus briefing from the White House briefing room.
Health officials say social isolation methods are working. Dr. Anthony Fauci now predicts the American death toll will be 60,000, which is down from the earlier, more dire, predictions of 100,000 to 240,000.
"We have to be prepared that when the infections start to rear their heads again that we have in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact, trace," Dr. Fauci told CBS News.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators is calling on China to immediately close all wet markets where fresh meat and produce is sold in unsanitary conditions.
This comes after the director of the Chinese CDC admitted, "The origin of the new coronavirus is the wildlife sold illegally in a Wuhan seafood market."
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