Stimulus checks on the way; US deaths nears 15K; astronauts head to space station

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There figures to be good news and bad news for the U.S. economy on Thursday.

On the day some Americans could begin receiving stimulus checks from the federal government amid the coronavirus pandemic that has eroded the country’s financial footing, economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict the Labor Department will report another 5.5 million initial claims for unemployment insurance.

A record 6.6 million people sought benefits a week ago after 3.3 million claims in the previous week.

The first Americans to receive stimulus payments, meanwhile, will likely be those who have already provided their bank account information to the Internal Revenue Service. Also Thursday, astronauts blasted off for the International Space Station after a “strict quarantine.” The Trump administration loosened restrictions on essential workers.

The U.S. death toll was nearing 15,000 early Thursday, with more than 432,000 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, there are close to 1.5 million confirmed cases and more than 88,500 deaths.