The United States has reached a harrowing milestone in the fight against the coronavirus as the numbers of deaths linked to COVID-19 passed the 1,000 mark late Wednesday, NBC News reports. Globally, the pandemic's death toll has surpassed the 20,000 mark, with nearly half a million confirmed cases recorded by Johns Hopkins University.
As of now, the U.S. has the sixth highest death toll about two weeks into major efforts to quell the virus through social distancing and stay-at-home orders throughout the country, with Italy, Spain, Iran, China and France taking the top spots. Within the U.S., New York has been the state hit hardest by the illness, with the state reporting nearly 33,000 cases as of Wednesday, the majority of which are in New York City. That same day, the city reported 81 deaths in an 8-hour span, bringing the total to 280.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is attempting to limit the damage to the economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic, passing a $2 trillion stimulus package late Wednesday that provides billions of dollars of credit for industries feeling the pressure of the pandemic, an increase to unemployment insurance and cash payments to citizens. The bill now waits in the hands of the House, which will not vote until Friday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Wednesday.
Included in the package is $150 billion for hospitals and medical centers to be able to treat the influx of patients, as well as cash payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples, with $500 add-ons per every child based on 2019 tax returns (2018 tax returns will be relied on for people who have yet to file). The benefits begin to decline for individuals making $75,000 and drop off completely for those making $99,000 or more.
"Most of these will be direct deposit," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday to NBC. "It will be within three weeks."
"We're determined to get money in people's pockets immediately," he added.
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