US job losses mount to new 5.2m in a week

The United States registered an additional 5.245m unemployment claims last week, bringing the total to 22m in a month, according to initial data, released on Thursday by the Department of Labor, news wires reported. Some economists say the unemployment rate could reach 20% in April, the highest since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

President Donald Trump planned to announce new recommendations later in the day to allow states to reopen, despite warnings from business leaders and governors that more testing and protective gear are needed first.

While some leaders and citizens around the US have called on government to reopen stores, factories and schools, health authorities and many politicians warned that returning to normal is a distant goal and that lifting restrictions too soon could allow the virus to come storming back.

The decision of when and how to ease up rests not with the White House but with state and local leaders, who imposed the mandatory lockdowns and other restrictions put in place over the past month.

The outbreak has infected more than 2 million people worldwide and killed more than 137,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, though the true numbers are believed to be much higher. The death toll in the US reached about 31,000, with over 600,000 confirmed infections.

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