Donald Trump disclosed during his Wednesday White House coronavirus task force briefing that the US has “passed the peak” of virus infections.
The US has — by far — the highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the world, with 639,733 cases and 30,990 deaths as of Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
On the downslope
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump said “the data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases” due to the administration’s “aggressive strategy.”
Trump turned his attention to the rapidly deteriorating economy, announcing that he would be rolling out new guidelines on Thursday in regard to how states and local governments can begin easing restrictions in May.
“I would say that we have 20 states, at least, but you really have 29 that are in extremely good shape. You have others that are getting much better,” Trump said.
Taskforce leader Mike Pence said that over 3.3 million tests have been “conducted and completed,” since the beginning of the outbreak and noted that 24% of counties in the US have not reported a single case and half of all states have fewer than 2,500 infections.
“We’re going to reflect on the fact that, as the president said, there will be areas of the country that will require continued mitigation and strong efforts and there will be other areas of the country that will be given guidance for greater flexibility,” Pence concluded.
Concerns about a burgeoning recession — or even depression — are growing as record numbers of Americans apply for unemployment and small businesses signal that they may not be able to return even once lockdown orders are lifted.
The New York Post reported on Wednesday that new federal data shows that another 5.2 million Americans have applied for unemployment in the last week, bringing the total number of jobless claims to 22 million since the beginning of the crisis — nearly the same size as the entire population of Florida.
Bloomberg economists Eliza Winger and Carl Riccadonna warned that “The unemployment rate is heading toward 15 percent in April, and possibly higher later in the quarter unless the torrent of jobless filings starts to subside.”
The Paycheck Protection Program, a stipulation of the $2.2. trillion CARES act passed at the end of March, set aside $350 billion for loans to small businesses to help retain staff and weather the storm.
However, the program proved to be so popular that the fund has already run dry. House lawmakers have been sparring over approving an additional $250 billion in recent days, with Democrats arguing that an additional $250 billion in funding for hospitals, state, and local governments, must be added to earn their stamp of approval.