Democratic US Representatives practise social distancing as they discuss the stimulus billImage copyright
AFP

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Democratic US Representatives practise social distancing as they discuss the stimulus bill

The US Congress has passed its largest-ever financial stimulus package, worth $2tn (£1.7tn), as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

The House of Representatives passed the bill two days after the Senate. President Trump says he will sign it.

On Wednesday the number of Americans filing for unemployment surged to a record high of 3.3 million people.

The US has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 86,000 positive tests.

Earlier on Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight temporary hospitals to meet an expected surge in cases.

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He said 519 people had died in the state – the worst-hit in the US – and there were 44,635 confirmed cases.

What happened in Congress?

Democrats and Republicans in the Democratic-led House approved the stimulus package by voice vote.

It is designed to enable direct payments to individuals and companies whose livelihoods and businesses have been affected by the pandemic.

It includes $500bn for the worst-affected industries and $290bn for payments of up to $3,000 to millions of families.

There is also $350bn for loans to small businesses, $250bn for unemployment aid and at least $100bn for hospitals and medical expenditure.

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Media captionCoronavirus: Millions of Americans unemployed

Officials across the US have closed restaurants, bars, cinemas, hotels and gyms in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Car firms have halted production and air travel has fallen dramatically. According to economists, a fifth of the US workforce is on some form of lockdown.

source: bbc.com

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