Coronavirus government response updates: Trump to speak with governors, says he’ll announce new reopening guidelines

(WASHINGTON) — As the U.S. economy continued to worsen dramatically with another staggering jobless claims report out Thursday, President Donald Trump is preparing to make a major push to reopen parts of the country when he speaks with the nation’s governors — and announces new and possibly eased guidelines for some states — this afternoon.

“Encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country,” Trump said, as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic neared 30,000 Wednesday evening.

The president has said he would “authorize” governors’ plans to reopen their states, after reversing his assertion of “total” authority in setting terms earlier this week — a comment which drew rebukes from several governors, some of whom banded together by region to form geographically-coordinated responses to the virus.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden on a chilly Wednesday evening, Trump and his task force pointed to areas of the country with fewer cases, while the government’s top expert on infectious diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, absent from the briefing, told ABC News anchor David Miur on “World News Tonight” to expect a slow rollout dictated by local authorities — one that’s heavily dependent on that community’s ability to test, provide medical care and do contact tracing.

While many in the president’s ear have acknowledged that widespread testing and contact tracing is necessary to open the country and get Americans back to work, Trump has denied any problems with access to testing in the U.S. and continues to push for a May 1 reopening, if not before.

President Trump says some states will be opening up their economies “much sooner than others.”

“We think some of the states can actually open up before the deadline of May 1.”

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 15, 2020

The president also spent several minutes Wednesday blaming Senate Democrats for blocking his judicial nominations and even threatened to “adjourn” both chambers of Congress amid the ongoing pandemic, which constitutional scholars note he does not have the authority to do for that reason under the circumstances.

Here are the latest developments in the government response:

Small business fund to prevent layoffs amid pandemic is officially out of money

The Paycheck Protection Program, a small business relief fund set up by Congress in response to the coronavirus pandemic, has exhausted its $350 billion in funding, as Party leaders remain in tense negotiations over how to replenish the fund.

As of 10:33 a.m., the Small Business Administration says it is “unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding.”

The program was designed to prevent layoffs during the pandemic, as its loans can be forgiven if businesses maintain their payrolls.

The SBA has not specified how many businesses might have been waiting for their application to process or who will not be able to receive a loan.

Many encounter roadblocks as stimulus checks hit bank accounts

More than 80 million Americans can expect to receive emergency coronavirus relief payments direct deposited into their bank accounts this week, according to the Treasury Department, but people are already reporting roadblocks.

As the payments roll out, many of those eligible to receive them are encountering problems ranging from persistent error messages on the new online payment tracking tool to money deposited into the wrong account.

There are also reports of payments going to people who are deceased.

The checks were a cornerstone feature of the $2 trillion emergency relief package passed by Congress in March. Individuals making $75,000 or less and couples making $150,000 or less are eligible to receive $1,200. Individuals and couples in those income brackets also are eligible for $500 for each child 17 or younger.

In a step experts call unprecedented, President Donald Trump’s name will also appear on those paper checks expected to start being issued via mail “early next week,” a Treasury Department spokeswoman told ABC News Wednesday, while denying adding his name would delay checks from going out.

Dept. of Labor: 5.2 million more Americans filed for unemployment last week

As businesses were forced to close and Americans stay inside amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, a record-shattering 22 millions people have filed for unemployment in the last month, wiping out a decade of employment gains.

Last week alone, 5.2 million people filed for unemployment, according to a Department of Labor report released Thursday morning.

The unprecedented influx in jobless claims has created a number of issues for those in dire need of benefits as Americans across the country report ongoing struggles in applying for unemployment insurance.

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