(THE HOUR) -- WASHINGTON - The death toll and economic devastation from the novel coronavirus reached staggering new levels in the United States on Thursday as officials reported more than 1,000 deaths from the pandemic in a single day and revealed that more than 6.6 million Americans had sought unemployment benefits in a single week.
The White House is expected to urge at least some people across the country to begin wearing cloth masks or face coverings in public to dampen the spread of the virus. The potential reversal of earlier mask recommendations - which White House officials indicated Thursday were still being debated - signaled the seriousness of the outbreak and rising concerns in Washington about the effect it could have on millions of Americans.
Local officials in one Texas border town already have threatened to fine those who don't cover their nose and mouth if they go out in public. Vice President Mike Pence said guidance on the topic would be issued in coming days; a White House official later said that the guidance would be targeted to those in areas where community transmission is high.
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