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Mnuchin says Americans to get coronavirus aid within three weeks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans should receive cash payments within three weeks to help offset the financial hardships of the coronavirus crisis, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, adding that the record jobless claims announced on Thursday are not relevant.

Interviewed on CNBC, Mnuchin said most people would get the money by direct deposit to their bank as soon as the $2 trillion congressional economic relief package was signed into law.

He urged the House of Representatives to quickly take up the massive bill, passed overnight by the U.S. Senate, citing President Donald Trump’s call for swift action.

“We’re determined to get money in people’s pockets immediately,” he said.

Asked about the staggering surge in unemployment, Mnuchin told CNBC the data reflected short-term impacts from the outbreak as the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record of more than 3 million last week.

“I just think these numbers right now are not relevant,” Mnuchin said. “Whether they’re bigger or smaller in the short term … the good thing about this bill is, the president is protecting these people.”

He added that he hoped companies would ultimately rehire workers and pointed to other industries such as grocers that were hiring.

(Reporting by David Lawder and Doina Chiacu; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller)