US surpasses China; unemployment claims spike

China is no longer the global leader in cases of the virus that originated in its soil. The U.S., with about one-fourth the number of people of the world’s most populous country, overtook China and Italy in confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday.

That dubious distinction took place on a day when jobless claims smashed a record and U.S. deaths surged near 1,200 as the coronavirus tightened its grip on America. Still, the prospect of a stimulus package soon becoming reality helped propel a third consecutive stock market rally.

Despite the continued increase in cases of COVID-19, President Donald Trump repeated his recent message that the country needs to get back to work. 

“The mortality rate is way, way down,” Trump said. “The people that actually die, that percentage is much lower than I expected.”

The Labor Department, in announcing the unemployment claims numbers for last week, said what Americans already knew – that layoffs hit the hospitality and food service industries particularly hard. Other industries that struggled included health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing industries, Labor said.

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