A sign is displayed at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, the US, July 8 2020. Picture: VICTOR BLUE/BLOOMBERG
A sign is displayed at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, the US, July 8 2020. Picture: VICTOR BLUE/BLOOMBERG

New York  —  As the number of new coronavirus cases in the US rose to a single-day record, fresh government data on Thursday showed another 1.3-million Americans filed for jobless benefits, highlighting the pandemic's devastating impact on the economy.

Nearly 60,000 new Covid-19 infections were reported on Wednesday and US deaths rose by 948 for the second straight day, the highest since early June.

Florida on Thursday announced nearly 9,000 new cases and 120 new coronavirus deaths, a record daily increase in lives lost. Positive test rates reached a new daily high of 18%, up from 12%-13% two weeks ago. California and Texas, the most populous states, announced record increases in Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday.

The grim US numbers come on top of extraordinarily high jobless figures, though they came in lower than economists had forecast.

In addition to those filing for jobless benefits, more than 1-million people in 49 states claimed first-time pandemic unemployment assistance last week, about 42,000 more than the week before, according to CNN. Continued claims stood at 18.1-million.

Initial unemployment claims hit a historic peak of nearly 6.9-million in late March. Though they have gradually fallen, claims remain roughly double their highest point during the 2007-2009 global economic recession.

With coronavirus cases rising in 41 of the 50 US states over the past two weeks, according to a Reuters analysis, some states have had to halt and roll back plans to reopen businesses and lift restrictions. From California to Florida, beaches and bars have been ordered to close. Restaurants in Texas have been told they can have fewer diners.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump criticised his health agency’s recommendations for reopening schools in autumn as too expensive and impractical, insisting that all schools must open for classroom instruction. Vice-President Mike Pence said on Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would issue a “new set of tools” next week.

Many Americans cannot return to work if classrooms do not reopen, as they are a major source of childcare in the country.

CDC director Robert Redfield on Thursday defended the guidelines but gave no details on what the CDC was changing.

“It's not a revision of the guidelines. It's just to provide additional information to help the schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward,” he told ABC's “Good Morning America” program. “Our guidelines are our guidelines.”

Officials in New Jersey and New York, the hardest-hit states at the outset of the US outbreak, are trying to preserve the progress they made in curtailing the spread of the virus in the face of the resurgence elsewhere, especially the South and West.

New Jersey adopted a stringent coronavirus face-mask order on Wednesday, and New York City unveiled a plan to allow public school students back into classrooms for just two or three days a week.

Reuters

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