WASHINGTON, D.C. – At least 26 million Americans have applied for benefits in the past five weeks amid the coronavirus lockdown that has shut down businesses across the country. More than 4.4 million Americans filed their first claims for unemployment insurance last week as the US economy bleeds jobs under the coronavirus lockdown, new figures released by the Department of Labor on Thursday showed.
Claims for jobless benefits have shattered historic highs in the five weeks since the United States began to feel the economic devastation from social distancing measures adopted as part of the lockdown. More than 26 million Americans have applied for their first round of unemployment insurance since March as shuttered businesses began laying off workers.
Millions more are believed to have lost their jobs but have been unable to apply for or are disqualified from receiving jobless benefits. President Donald Trump has sought to nudge states experiencing relatively tame COVID-19 outbreaks to begin easing social distancing restrictions and allow the economy to recover.
Although some public health officials still insist that the United States “probably has months” to go under restrictions before the normal social and commercial life that underpins the economy can resume, as President Trump himself said, the cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease.
In accordance with Trump’s plan for easing restrictions, several states have been relaxing strict lockdown guidelines, allowing some of their businesses to open their doors to customers. Dr. Anthony Fauci had insisted that the US would have “saved lives had the country enforced firm social distancing requirements as early as February”, but claimed that those recommendations were “met with pushback at the time”.
Dr. Fauci claimed that there would be millions of dead, yet a new study shows the US is expected to suffer much fewer deaths. The new projection by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine suggested that the US is poised to sustain some 81,000 deaths by August. In the worst-case scenario, the death toll might surpass the 136,000 mark.
Although the number of possible deaths is still pretty high, it is lower than the 240,000 mark previously projected by the State Department, and a far cry from the “millions of dead” announced just a month ago. The claim that if no social distancing measures had been put in place between 1.5 million to 2.2 million would have died has not been proven due to the situation in states which haven’t enforced these measures.