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US government unveils $1 trillion stimulus package including direct payments to Americans

The $250 billion cheques are part of a huge aid package that must be passed by Congress

The Trump administration has unveiled a $1 trillion (£830bn, €917bn) stimulus package, which would include $1,000 direct payments to individual Americans to combat economic catastrophe from a coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 100 people in the country.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “We're looking at sending cheques to Americans immediately.”

The $250 billion (£207bn) in cheques are part of a huge aid package which also includes a bailout for airlines and hotels, among other measures. The proposal must be approved by Congress to move forward.

It follows widespread school and shop closures as the number of coronavirus cases in the US approaches 6,000.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was deciding whether to order the city’s 8.5 million residents to “shelter in place” at home, as state and local officials escalated “social distancing” policies by closing schools, restaurants and theatres to help reduce the spread of the virus.

About 6.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay area have already been ordered to stay home for all but the most crucial outings until April 7.

Kentucky and Illinois recorded their first coronavirus deaths, leading to a national toll of at least 108. Authorities said 22 people had been infected at a nursing home in suburban Chicago.

In Washington state, where 52 people have died, Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation approving $200 million for homeless aid and other measures to fight the virus. California’s governor signed off on $1 billion, and Georgia’s governor approved $100 million.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy closed indoor shopping malls. The nation’s largest indoor shopping centre, Minnesota’s Mall of America, said it would close.

On Tuesday US stocks jumped a day after their steepest declines since the 1987 crash, as the Federal Reserve took further steps to boost liquidity. The benchmark S&P 500 closed up 6 per cent.

Mnuchin said the government may shorten trading hours if necessary.

FURTHER READING: US stocks fall 12 per cent – the worst drop since 1987 crash

FURTHER READING: Airlines cut flights and jobs over Covid-19 crisis

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