The human and economic toll of the lockdowns against the coronavirus mounted Thursday as India struggled to feed the multitudes, Italy shut down most of its industry, and a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in a single week.
As the number of infections around the globe reached a half-million and world leaders held a video summit to grapple with how long to keep the economy at a standstill to help flatten the rising curve, the damage to people’s livelihoods and their well-being started to come into focus.
In India, where the country’s 1.3 billion people were under orders to stay home, legions of poor were suddenly thrown out of work, and many families were left struggling for something to eat.
Around the globe, the death toll stood at nearly 8,200 in Italy, more than 4,100 in Spain and over 1,000 in the US, approximately 400 of them in New York State, the worst hotspot in the nation
The United Nations estimated that as many as 25 million jobs could be lost in the economic upheaval, more than during the global financial meltdown of 2008.
In Europe, companies are laying off workers at the fastest pace since 2009, according to surveys of business managers. And the US is bleeding jobs as well: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week was nearly five times the old record, set in 1982.
Italy, the eurozone’s third-biggest economy and a major exporter of machinery, textiles and other goods, became the first Western developed nation to idle most of its industry, extending a shutdown on smaller, nonessential businesses to heavy manufacturers.
Among the companies that have shut down or rolled back production: Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Pirelli tires and Luxottica eyewear, maker of Ray-Bans and Oakleys.