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Top US Senate Democrat warns of massive layoffs without state aid

Schumer also called for new oversight hearings on President Donald Trump's coronavirus response when lawmakers return to Washington next week.

April 28, 2020 / 08:24 PM IST

The top Democrat in the US Senate warned on Tuesday that state and local governments will see "massive" layoffs if Congress fails to act soon to provide financial assistance to help them combat the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

"There's going to be massive layoffs at the state and local level unless we get money to them quickly," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told MSNBC in an interview.

Schumer also called for new oversight hearings on President Donald Trump's coronavirus response when lawmakers return to Washington next week. Top administration officials should face "tough question after tough question," he said, on issues ranging from problems with Paycheck Protection Program assistance to small businesses to the status of efforts to provide testing.

Congress has provided $150 billion to state governments facing the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak at a time when they are also facing a decline in tax revenue.

Democrats are pushing for more aid. But Republicans rejected efforts to add the assistance to the last coronavirus bill to pass Congress.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox Radio this week that Congress could approve further funding for states in future legislation but he would also demand liability protection for businesses and healthcare providers.

The National Governors Association has asked for $500 billion, while US city and county groups are seeking $250 billion.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.