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Joe Biden unveils $1.9tn US economic relief package

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President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9tn (£1.4tn) stimulus plan for the coronavirus-sapped US economy before he takes office next week.

If passed by congress, it would include $1tn for households, with direct payments of $1,400 to all Americans.

The relief proposal includes $415bn to fight the virus and $440bn for small businesses.

Mr Biden, a democrat, has promised to beat the pandemic that has killed more than 385,000 people in the US.

He campaigned last year vowing to do a better job handling the virus than outgoing President Donald Trump, a republican.

The direct payments of $1,400 would come on top of $600 payments provided in a relief bill enacted last month.

Mr Biden’s proposal comes as a winter surge of the coronavirus breaks records.

Each day brings well over 200,000 new cases in the US and the daily death toll sometimes tops 4,000.

In a primetime speech on Thursday night, 14 January, from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, he said: “A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight and there’s no time to waste.

“The very health of our nation is at stake, we have to act and we have to act now, he added.

The incoming president said: “There will be stumbles, but I will always be honest with you about both the progress we’re making and what setbacks we meet.

Mr Biden wants to pump $20bn into vaccinating Americans, including setting up mass vaccination hubs and dispatching mobile units to remote areas.

Two effective vaccines were delivered under the Trump administration, but health officials say the rollout needs to speed up.

According to Biden, the vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure this far but his administration aims to deliver 100 million jabs in 100 days.

 The package also includes $50bn to expand testing and $130bn to help most schools reopen by the spring.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers for contact tracing.

The supplemental jobless benefits would also increase to $400 a week from $300 a week now and extended until September, along with a moratorium on evictions and home repossessions.

UPDATED: Fake COVID-19 vaccines in circulation, NAFDAC warns

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