The U.S. economy continues to look bleak after more than 3 million workers filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, according to federal labor data released Thursday.
Although that figure is down slightly from the week before, over 33 million Americans have now filed for initial jobless claims as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has routed some industries to Depression-era levels.
Yet even as the economy begins to slowly fire up again state by state, economists expect unemployment levels to continue rising — and to extend across a broader swath of industries.
Meanwhile, the debate over state reopenings goes on — and coronavirus cases show no sign of slowing down. As of Thursday evening, the death toll in the U.S. is over 76,000 and there are more than 1.2 million confirmed cases, according to NBC News' count.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. are starting to reopen.
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NYC ramps up antibody testing, plans to test 70K people in next two weeks
New York City is ramping up its antibody testing and plans to test roughly 70,000 people over the next two weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Thursday.
The city is "launching an antibody survey to understand COVID-19 spread and provide New Yorkers with more clarity," the mayor's press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, said in a tweet.
There initially will be a testing site in each of the city's five boroughs, with each site providing tests free to 1,000 people a day. The initiative starts next week and is by appointment only.
Results will take 24 to 48 hours.
Antibody tests are intended to show whether a person's immune system has developed antibodies, which would indicate they were exposed to the coronavirus at some point. There have been questions about the accuracy of some antibody tests.
Coronavirus patients in NYC admitted to hospitals, ICU drop
New York City is making progress in its fight against the spread of the coronavirus with declines in the number of patients admitted to hospitals and intensive care units.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that 79 people were admitted to hospitals for COVID-19, down from 109 people on May 4. The number of patients admitted to intensive care declined to 567 from 599.
"It's not perfect progress, but it's damn close," the mayor said.
Moscow mayor extends lockdown to May 31
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin extended the Russian capital’s strict lockdown until May 31, according to an order announced Thursday.
Industrial and construction enterprises can return to work on May 12, but the remainder of the city's social and economic life will remain frozen.
Moscow residents will still need passes to leave their homes for most activities — save for grocery shopping, walking pets and taking out the trash.
And as of May 12, residents will also face a new requirement to wear masks when going to buy groceries or ride public transport.
Sobyanin said a recent spike in new cases was the result of expanded testing, and that hospitalizations remain stable.
Photo: Darth Vader and Stormtroopers patrol village in Manila
Pompeo rebuffs German plea on WHO funding halt
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has rebuffed a plea from Germany to reconsider halting funding for the World Health Organization over its handling of the outbreak, according to a German newspaper.
The German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Thursday that Pompeo responded to a letter from German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, insisting that the U.S. was “deeply committed to working with the international community to fight the coronavirus pandemic” despite the funding freeze.
Pompeo said that the U.S. has been the largest single contributor to WHO over the years despite what he described as “a string of mismanaged pandemic responses” by the Geneva-based agency, which he accused of “public kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party regime.”
Germany’s Foreign Ministry confirmed an exchange of letters between Maas and Pompeo but declined to elaborate. The U.S. Embassy in Berlin said it would not comment on diplomatic communications.
Spain plans national day of mourning for coronavirus victims 'once the streets can be walked freely'
Spain will hold a day of mourning for those who died from coronavirus once people are allowed to move freely again, Minister of Health Salvador Illa said on Thursday.
Illa was speaking during a daily news conference, where he also said that while much was not known about the virus, the government was sure its transmission was linked to the mobility of people. He said “once the streets can be walked freely again," the government will declare a national day of mourning with a tribute to follow.
Most of the country is currently in “Phase 0” of their lockdown lifting, where some small stores are allowed to reopen, and people are allowed to leave their homes to exercise within set times.
Around 3 million more workers filed for initial jobless claims last week
Around 3 million more workers filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, down slightly from 3.8 million the previous week.
More than 33 million Americans have now filed for initial jobless claims since the coronavirus pandemic ripped through the economy, according to data released Thursday by the Department of Labor.
Continuing claims, or the number of people receiving ongoing benefits, is now at more than 22 million, far surpassing the recessionary peak of 6.6 million.
Thursday's jobless-claims number comes before the closely watched monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which will be released Friday morning.
In an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC's "TODAY" show Thursday morning, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, said Friday's official unemployment rate "will probably be something like 16 or 17 percent — but it will understate how bad the damage has been. I think the real number is probably around 23 or 24 percent. It's devastating."
However, he added, "I don't think we're actually headed for another Great Depression," predicting instead a "a long, gradual recovery" whose pace will be dictated by the coronavirus.
WHO 'deeply troubled' by increased reports of domestic violence in Europe
The World Health Organization is “deeply troubled” by increased reports of domestic violence in Europe, including Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Ireland, Russian, Spain, and the U.K., Dr. Hans Kluge said in a news briefing on Thursday.
Kluge, the head of the WHO Europe office, said although data was scarce, countries across Europe are reporting up to a 60 percent increase in emergency calls by women subjected to violence by their intimate partners in April this year compared to last. He also noted that online inquiries to violence prevention support hotlines have jumped about five times.
Citing data from the U.N. Population Fund, Kluge said “if lockdowns were to continue for six months, we would expect an extra 31 million cases of gender-based violence globally."
Kluge said governments and local authorities should consider it a moral obligation to ensure services are available to vulnerable communities. Reported numbers are still only a small measure of the actual problem, since people suffering from abuse often decline to report it, he said.
Apple awards $10 million to nasal swab maker COPAN Diagnostics
Apple said Thursday that it was awarding $10 million to a maker of nasal swabs and other materials for collecting samples for Covid-19 tests in a move aimed at boosting the swab maker's production to 1 million collection kits per week by early July.
The two companies said the award would help Murrieta, California-based COPAN Diagnostics expand into a larger facility and create 50 new jobs in Southern California. In addition to providing the funding, Apple said it would help COPAN Diagnostics design and source new equipment from York, Pennsylvania-based K2 Kinetics and Waukesha, Wisconsin-based MWES, both makers of industrial robotics systems.