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Over 3 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Last Week amid Coronavirus Shutdowns

A record 3.2 million American citizens filed for unemployment in the week ending of March 21, according to the Labor Department’s report released Thursday — signifying the economic toll the country has taken amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This marks the highest number of jobless claims filed in a single week in U.S. history, the report states, and is a significant increase from the prior week, where 282,000 people filed for unemployment.

Prior to this year, the highest number of unemployment claims was 695,000 in October of 1982, according to the Labor Department.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, told NBC News that these numbers “are just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Businesses cannot plan for this kind of sudden stop of cash flow,” Swonk said. “This isn’t a ‘rainy day fund’ situation.”

In order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, businesses across the country have closed indefinitely, causing many Americans to be laid off from their jobs.

But President Donald Trump has indicated he would like the shutdown to end as quickly as possible, though health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci— the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases — said that the president’s hopeful April 12 date may not be safe if the virus isn’t contained.

“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump said Tuesday during a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News.

Epidemic experts have warned that rushing the decision to resume normal business so quickly could be dangerous, as health officials are continuing to urge people to stay home to slow new infections.

RELATED: 2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package Bars President Trump’s Companies from Receiving Aid

On Wednesday night, the Senate unanimously approved a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, which is expected to pass in the House on Friday.

Provisions of the massive bill include granting one-time $1,200 checks to individual people making up to $75,000 a year, $100 billion in assistance to hospitals, $350 billion in assistance to small businesses, $500 billion in aid for corporations — including airline companies and cruise lines — and about $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds.

The bill is also expected to increase the maximum unemployment benefit that a state gives to an individual by $600 per week.

As of Thursday morning, March 26, there are at least 68,534 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and a total of 990 people have died, according to the New York Times. 

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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Lifestyle

Tyler Perry’s Ruthless Star Melissa L. Williams Is Giving Money to Fans in Need amid Coronavirus

Melissa L. Williams is doing her part to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Williams, who is the star of Tyler Perry‘s new series Ruthless, has been giving out $100 to her fans in need so they can purchase supplies for themselves and their families amid the outbreak.

To make this happen, Williams began interacting with her fans on Instagram, who all expressed a need for the money due to the financial hardships they were experiencing during this time.

In multiple screenshots provided to PEOPLE, the actress can be seen asking each fan what their Cash App username is before sending at least seven people $100 each for “whatever you need it for.”


Though their reasons differed — one user explained that she was having trouble supporting her family after her husband was laid off, while another said the money would help feed herself and her daughter — all were incredibly grateful for the kind gesture.

“Thank you once again! I just don’t know how to stop thanking you. This was just sweet of you!” wrote one person in response.

“You’re such a blessing. You have no idea what you just did. You’re giving back from the blessings you have received,” added another fan. “Thanks again for giving back to your fans.”


Williams, who also stars in Perry’s The Oval on BET, joins a long list of celebrities who have been giving back as COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread around the globe.

Ciara and Russell Wilson announced in a video message on March 17 that they will be donating a million meals to Seattle Food LifeLine, a local food bank in Seattle — where the NFL star plays football — to aid in relief efforts during the pandemic.

“We want to encourage everyone out there to join us in whatever way that you can, big or small. Everything makes a difference. Everything that we do together makes a difference,” Ciara said. “Together, we will conquer this tough time we are going through.”

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have chipped in, pledging $1 million to be split between two organizations representing food banks across the U.S. and Canada.

“COVID-19 has brutally impacted older adults and love income families,” Reynolds shared in an Instagram note. “Blake and I are donating $1 million to be split between FEEDING AMERICA and FOOD BANKS CANADA.”

Houston Texans’ JJ Watt and wife Kealia Ohai donated $350,000 to the Houston Food Bank, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and fiancé Tom Bernthal launched the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Feeding Families in partnership with their local food bank to ensure families were being fed during the crisis.

Bethenny Frankel has also been doing her part by raising money to put together “BStrong corona kits” with a special focus on delivering masks to medical professionals through her disaster relief initiative, BStrong, and their partner, Global Empowerment Mission.

The former Real Housewives of New York City star recently revealed that she expects to supply over 1 million masks to benefit hospitals that are in limited supply.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been over 39,819 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and 458 deaths, according to a New York Times database. 

New York currently leads the country with at least 20,875 cases, while New Jersey, California, and Washington follow behind with over 1,800 cases, respectively, the Times reported.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.


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