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New York mayor begs for more US aid as jobs data confirms economic carnage

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded with the US government for more help in expectation of a surge in COVID-19 cases next week, as new statistics emerged confirming that hundreds of thousands of people across the country have lost their jobs.

US employers cut 701,000 jobs last month, ending a record 113 straight months of employment growth, as a patchwork of state-ordered closures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus began forcing businesses to shed employees, the Labor Department said. In the last two weeks, nearly 1 million workers have filed for jobless benefits.

“What we are watching in real time is the greatest bloodletting in the American labor market since the Great Depression,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM in Austin, Texas.

De Blasio, mayor of the most-populous U.S. city, appeared on morning television shows on Friday to call for more federal help. He is asking for 1,000 nurses, 150 doctors and 300 respiratory therapists as the number of COVID-19 cases in the city is expected to rise sharply next week.

“I think somehow in Washington, there’s an assumption (that) there’s weeks to prepare,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. “There’s not weeks anymore. It is days now.”

More than one-quarter of the 6,058 U.S. coronavirus deaths tallied by Johns Hopkins University as of Friday morning have been in New York City.

De Blasio has said the city will need an additional 2,500 to 3,000 ventilators by the end of next week.

New York City Health & Hospitals, the country’s largest public healthcare system, said on Thursday it aimed to add 3,000 critical care beds by May 1, nearly tripling its capacity in the 11 hospitals it operates in the city.

Infections in the United States totaling 240,000 account for about 24% of the more than 1 million worldwide cases.