Morning virus updates: Jobless claims down, but still high, as states see record COVID-19 cases

The number of laid-off workers who applied for unemployment benefits declined slightly to 1.48 million last week, the 12th straight drop and a sign that layoffs are slowing but are still at a painfully high level.

The steady decline in claims suggests that the job market has begun to slowly heal from the pandemic, which shuttered businesses and sent the unemployment rate up to 14.7% in April, its highest level since the Great Depression. The total number of people who are receiving jobless aid also fell last week, evidence that employers are rehiring some of the workers who had been laid off since mid-March.

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The three most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — set records for new coronavirus cases daily and there are fears of “apocalyptic” surges in major Texas cities if the trend continues.Scores of migrants arriving in Somalia tell United Nations workers every day that they are unaware of COVID-19. In the week ending June 20, just over half — 51% — of the 3,471 people tracked said they had never heard of the virus.”We’re going to have to face the harsh reality in some states that we may need to shut down again,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at George Washington University School of Medicine.The pandemic has led to an alarming uptick in authoritarian behavior by governments across the globe, who are using the crisis to silence critics, an open letter signed by more than 500 former world leaders and Nobel Laureates claims.

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Summer travel updates

Tracking the spread