Jobless claims hit new record 1 month after Trump said they were 'so good'

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A record 6.6 million filed for unemployment benefits last week, weeks after Trump claimed the coronavirus outbreak would have a positive impact on jobs.

More than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, breaking the record for jobless claims for the second time in as many weeks, the Labor Department announced on Thursday.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits belies Trump's comments from less than a month ago, when he said in a March 6 news conference that the new coronavirus was actually having a "positive impact" on jobs in the United States.

"We're going to have Americans staying home instead of going and spending their money in other countries and maybe that's one of the reasons the job numbers are so good," Trump said at a briefing from the White House. "We've had a lot of travel inside the USA."

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At the time, countries such as China and Italy were imposing lockdowns to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. But the United States had not, as the virus had yet to fully emerge here.

Trump's comments have not aged well.

The number of Americans who have applied for unemployment insurance now stands at nearly 10 million.

And that number could double by the end of the month, as social distancing measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 continue to take a toll on the economy, the Associated Press reported.

Trump's March 6 claim that the coronavirus was having a positive impact on the economy was part of his initial strategy to minimize the danger the virus posed to the United States.

Early on, Trump compared COVID-19 to the flu. And he questioned why COVID-19 demanded a lockdown, given that the United States doesn't impose social distancing measures every year to stop the spread of the flu.

"So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!" Trump wrote in a March 9 tweet.

Of course, experts predicted that without stay-at-home orders, the death toll from COVID-19 could hit 2.2 million — far more than the number of annual flu deaths.

Trump also claimed without evidence that the coronavirus would "miraculously" go away by April.

That was another statement that has suffered over time. It is now April, and the country is experiencing a major outbreak that experts predict could lead to more than 200,000 deaths, despite the stringent social distancing measures most states have taken.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.