Half-million infected worldwide as economic toll rises

The human and economic toll of the lockdowns against the coronavirus mounted Thursday as India struggled to feed the multitudes, Italy shut down most of its industry, and a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in a single week. The U.S. surpassed official Chinese government numbers to become the country with most reported infections.

As the number of cases worldwide topped a half-million and deaths climbed past 24,000, the damage to people's livelihoods and their well-being from the effort to flatten the rising curve started to come into focus.

In India, where the country's 1.3 billion people were under orders to stay home, legions of poor were suddenly thrown out of work, and many families were left struggling for something to eat.

Content Continues Below

“Our first concern is food, not the virus,” said Suresh Kumar, 60, a bicycle rickshaw rider in New Delhi whose family of six relies on his daily earnings of 300 rupees, or $4. “I don’t know how I will manage.”

India has the world's second-highest number of people living in extreme poverty, with produce peddlers, maids and other low-wage workers living day to day. The government announced a 1.7 trillion rupee ($22 billion) economic stimulus package to deliver monthly rations of grain and lentils to 800 million people.

Around the globe, the death toll rose to about 8,200 in Italy, 4,300 in Spain and 1,700 in France, including a 16-year-old. The U.S. had about 1,300 deaths, about 400 of them in New York State, the worst hotspot in the nation. Most of those victims were in New York City, where hospitals are getting swamped.

A running count kept by Johns Hopkins University showed the United States now had the most reported cases of any country Thursday, with more than 85,000. Italy and China, the latter of which was the origin of the outbreak late last year, both had reported more than 80,000.

Louisiana was quickly becoming another smoldering hotspot. The number of new cases there jumped by more than 500 Thursday, for a total of over 2,300, with 86 deaths, including a 17-year-old, the health department said. The higher infection numbers reflected an increase in testing. New Orleans was gearing up for a possible overflow at hospitals, with plans to treat as many as 3,000 patients at the city’s convention center.

From New York's Fifth Avenue and London's Piccadilly Circus to the boulevards of Paris and the streets of Rome and Madrid, restaurants, hotels, airlines, giant chains and small shops are all shuttered, and factories across both continents have ground to a halt, as cities, states and entire countries have ordered the closing of nonessential businesses and instructed people to stay home.

Companies in Europe are laying off workers at the fastest pace since 2009, according to surveys of business managers. And the U.S. is bleeding jobs as well: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week was nearly five times the old record, set in 1982.

Dann Dykas, 37, of Portland, Oregon, was laid off from his job helping design and set up displays for trade shows.

“Everything is so surreal," he said. "I can't even get an interview for another job, and we now have to worry more about being careful and taking care of ourselves.”

In Georgia, 33-year-old Ian Smith was let go from his job at a wine bar and is working “side hustles” and relying on the generosity of friends.

“On my worst days, it’s hopelessness, and on some of my better days, it’s ‘What possibility can I create in all of this?'” he said. “I can’t pretend that I always feel that, though.”

In a rare positive sign, stocks rallied on Wall Street for the third straight day after an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package to help businesses, hospitals and ordinary Americans pull through the crisis won passage in the Senate. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 1,350 points, or over 6%.

The rescue plan, which is expected to be voted on in the House on Friday, would dispense checks of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, announced that federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread, as he aims to ease the restrictions meant to slow the outbreak.

Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the task force is concerned about certain counties in the Midwest that appear to be seeing a rapid increase in cases. She listed two: Wayne County in Michigan and Cook County in Illinois.

Montana joined the growing list of U.S. states ordering residents to stay home to fight the virus' spread.

Italy, the eurozone's third-biggest economy and a major exporter of machinery, textiles and other goods, became perhaps the first Western developed nation to idle most of its industry, extending a shutdown on smaller, nonessential businesses to heavy manufacturers.

Among the companies in Italy that have shut down or rolled back production: Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Pirelli tires and Luxottica eyewear, maker of Ray-Bans and Oakleys.

The industrial lobby Confindustria estimates a cost of 70 billion to 100 billion euros ($77 billion-$110 billion) of national wealth per month if 70% of companies are closed, as anticipated.

“We are entering a war economy,’’ said Confindustria president Vincenzo Boccia.

Elsewhere around the world, South Africa, with the most industrialized economy in Africa, headed into a three-week lockdown starting Friday. The country is already in recession, with an unemployment rate of 29%.

And Britain unveiled another relief effort, this time aimed at the gig economy, many of whose workers are facing financial ruin. The government will give the self-employed grants equal to 80% of their average profits, up to 2,500 pounds ($2,975) per month.

In other developments:

__ New York state’s death toll jumped by 100 in one day, pushing the number to 385, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. He added that experts expect the number to increase as critically ill patients who have been on ventilators for several days succumb to the virus. “That is a situation where people just deteriorate over time,” Cuomo said.

__ China’s National Health Commission on Friday reported 55 new cases of the virus, including 54 it said were imported infections in recent arrivals from overseas. Once again, there were no new cases reported in Wuhan, the provincial capital where the coronavirus emerged in December. China said it is temporarily barring most foreigners from entering as it tries to curb imported cases.

__ In the Mideast, Saudi Arabia announced a total lockdown on the capital, Riyadh, and Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, in addition to a nationwide curfew. In the United Arab Emirates, authorities announced an overnight weekend lockdown and used drones to tell people to stay home.

__ The leaders of the Group of 20 major industrialized nations held a video summit for safety reasons and vowed to work together to confront the crisis but made no specific commitments.

__ In Brazil, the country's governors are defying President Jair Bolsonaro over his call to reopen schools and businesses, dismissing his argument that the “cure” of widespread shutdowns is worse than the disease. As of Thursday, the country had more than 2,500 cases and 59 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

So far, more than 120,000 people have recovered, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

___

Long reported from Washington, Rising reported from Berlin and Schmall from New Delhi. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

A Red Cross volunteer looks at beds set up for homeless people in the gymnasium of Uranienborg school, which is closed due to the corona eruption, in Oslo, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix via AP)
A Red Cross volunteer looks at beds set up for homeless people in the gymnasium of Uranienborg school, which is closed due to the corona eruption, in Oslo, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix via AP) (Heiko Junge)
A member of the Iranian army walks at a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The Iranian Army set up a 2,000 bed temporary hospital for the new coronavirus patients at the Tehran's International Fair Center in northern Tehran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
A member of the Iranian army walks at a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The Iranian Army set up a 2,000 bed temporary hospital for the new coronavirus patients at the Tehran's International Fair Center in northern Tehran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) (Ebrahim Noroozi)
An undertaker wearing a garbage bag atop of a gown as a safety mesure during the coronavirus outbreak works at cemetery in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, March 25, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
An undertaker wearing a garbage bag atop of a gown as a safety mesure during the coronavirus outbreak works at cemetery in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, March 25, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) (Bernat Armangue)
A member of the Brooklyn Hospital Center COVID-19 testing team calls in the next patient in line, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A member of the Brooklyn Hospital Center COVID-19 testing team calls in the next patient in line, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (Mary Altaffer)
Health workers react as people applaud from their houses in support of the medical staff that are working on the COVID-19 virus outbreak at the main gate of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Health workers react as people applaud from their houses in support of the medical staff that are working on the COVID-19 virus outbreak at the main gate of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) (Emilio Morenatti)
Hospital staff pray before joining their shift, outside a hospital setup for coronavirus infected patients in Quetta, Pakistan, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)
Hospital staff pray before joining their shift, outside a hospital setup for coronavirus infected patients in Quetta, Pakistan, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt) (Arshad Butt)
Volunteer workers of a regional search and rescue move a stretcher, close to Navarra Hospital, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Volunteer workers of a regional search and rescue move a stretcher, close to Navarra Hospital, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) (Alvaro Barrientos)
A woman walks in an empty street near the Eiffel Tower during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A woman walks in an empty street near the Eiffel Tower during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Thibault Camus)
A doctor gathers information from a driver arriving to get tested for COVID-19 at private laboratory Biomedica de Referencia, in the Lomas Virreyes neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A doctor gathers information from a driver arriving to get tested for COVID-19 at private laboratory Biomedica de Referencia, in the Lomas Virreyes neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Rebecca Blackwell)
Workers spray disinfectant over spectator seats at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Workers spray disinfectant over spectator seats at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) (Dita Alangkara)
A woman walks through a terminal at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
A woman walks through a terminal at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) (Michael Probst)
An ill crew member from the Costa cruise ship Favolosa, second from left, is led to a waiting ambulance after being brought ashore in a lifeboat during the coronavirus outbreak to the U.S. Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. Miami-area hospitals received crew members Thursday from two Costa Cruise ships, the Magica and Favolosa. Carnival Corp., which owns the cruise line, said the ships are empty except for crew members. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
An ill crew member from the Costa cruise ship Favolosa, second from left, is led to a waiting ambulance after being brought ashore in a lifeboat during the coronavirus outbreak to the U.S. Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. Miami-area hospitals received crew members Thursday from two Costa Cruise ships, the Magica and Favolosa. Carnival Corp., which owns the cruise line, said the ships are empty except for crew members. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky)
Aircraft of Aegean Airlines are parked at Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The Greek airline carrier announced that they will suspend all international flights from March 26 until April 30, because of the coronavirus outbreak and the travel restrictions imposed by the Greek government, the EU and other states. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Aircraft of Aegean Airlines are parked at Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The Greek airline carrier announced that they will suspend all international flights from March 26 until April 30, because of the coronavirus outbreak and the travel restrictions imposed by the Greek government, the EU and other states. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) (Thanassis Stavrakis)
People applaud outside St. Thomas' Hospital in support of British National Health Service workers who are treating coronavirus victims, as part of a nationwide salute to the doctors, nurses and staff of the NHS in London, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has prompted a public display of appreciation for health service workers on the front line of the fight against the contagious virus. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
People applaud outside St. Thomas' Hospital in support of British National Health Service workers who are treating coronavirus victims, as part of a nationwide salute to the doctors, nurses and staff of the NHS in London, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has prompted a public display of appreciation for health service workers on the front line of the fight against the contagious virus. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali) (Alberto Pezzali)
A woman relaxes in a hammock hanging amid cherry trees in full bloom along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Mayor Jim Kenney has issued a stay-at-home order to the nation's sixth most-populated city to keep its residents from leaving home, except to get food, seek medical attention, exercise outdoors, go to a job classified as essential or other errands that involve personal and public safety. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A woman relaxes in a hammock hanging amid cherry trees in full bloom along Kelly Drive in Philadelphia, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Mayor Jim Kenney has issued a stay-at-home order to the nation's sixth most-populated city to keep its residents from leaving home, except to get food, seek medical attention, exercise outdoors, go to a job classified as essential or other errands that involve personal and public safety. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (Matt Rourke)
A man walks a long an empty street in downtown Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A man walks a long an empty street in downtown Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) (Emilio Morenatti)