SANTA FE, N.M. -- Faulting inaction in Washington, governors and state lawmakers are racing to get pandemic relief to small-business owners, the unemployed, renters and others whose livelihoods have been upended by the widening coronavirus outbreak.
In some cases, state elected officials are spending the last of the federal relief package passed in the spring as an end-of-year deadline approaches and the fall covid-19 surge threatens their economies anew.
Democrats have been most vocal in criticizing President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate for failing to act, but many Republican lawmakers are also sounding the alarm.
Underscoring the need for urgency, the number of new covid-19 cases reported in the United States reached 205,557 on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University -- the first time its daily figure topped the 200,000 mark.
The total number of cases reported in the U.S. has topped 13.2 million. There have been more than 266,000 deaths.
The Democratic governors of Colorado and New Mexico convened special legislative sessions to address the virus-related emergency. Early last week, the New Mexico Legislature passed a bipartisan relief bill that will deliver one-time $1,200 checks to all unemployed workers and give up to $50,000 to certain businesses.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state took action to help residents "who have real issues about keeping food on their table, a roof over their head."
"While the United States of America is on fire, the Trump administration has left states to fight this virus on their own," she said. "It is clear no help is coming -- not from this president, not from this administration. As we have done every day this year, New Mexico will step up."
In Colorado, a special session scheduled for Monday will consider roughly $300 million in relief to businesses, restaurants and bars, child-care providers, landlords, tenants, public schools and others.
"Even as cases have exploded across the country, Congress and the president have not yet passed much-needed relief for people," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said. "Here in Colorado, we want to do the best with what we have to take care of our own."
In New Jersey and Washington state, Republicans who are a minority in both legislatures were the ones pushing for special sessions. They want to direct more money to struggling small-business owners.
Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, who control both houses of the Legislature, are considering whether to return in December after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers put forward a $500 million covid-19 relief bill last week. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, plans to convene lawmakers in December, partially at Republicans' urging.
"Senate Republicans are committed to recovering our economy that has been harmed by broad and prolonged shutdowns," Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said. "We will work with anyone to find solutions."
'SENSE OF URGENCY'
State government leaders want Trump and Congress to extend the Dec. 30 deadline for spending money already allocated under the March Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and to provide more federal funding to deal with the consequences of the latest surge of the virus.
"It's just heartbreaking what they're allowing to happen with no federal government intervention," said Washington state House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, a Democrat.
Walz of Minnesota cited "a sense of urgency" around doing something on the state level because of the lack of a federal response.
The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits reported that more than half of the state's charitable organizations received forgivable loans through the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program, while another $12 million is going to organizations that provide food to the needy. But all that will be spent -- or lost -- by the end of December without congressional action.
"I would reiterate to our federal partners -- to the outgoing administration and to the incoming Biden administration -- please work together, please find a compromise in there, please. If you have to, move a package now with the idea that you will come back and move one later," Walz said. "Covid is not going to end at the end of the month. We are in an unrelenting spike."
In Ohio, where Republicans control every branch of government, Gov. Mike DeWine and legislative leaders pushed a $420 million pandemic spending package through a special bipartisan panel last month. Funded through the CARES Act, it offered grants to small businesses, bars and restaurants, low-income renters, arts groups, and colleges and universities.
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, a Republican, gives credit to the federal government for the billions in aid previously sent out, but he said small businesses and people who have lost work need more federal assistance.
"The election's over," Benninghoff said. "This is not a time for finger-pointing."
In neighboring New Jersey, the partisan divide over $4 billion in covid-19 borrowing backed by the Democratic governor and Legislature prompted a court challenge by minority Republicans. The state's high court sided with Gov. Phil Murphy's administration, citing the unprecedented nature of the outbreak.
Even so, Murphy has regularly pleaded with Congress for more aid.
"It's shameful that they have not acted in Congress, especially [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and the Republican Senate, to throw a lifeline to small businesses," he said.
Republicans have proposed a $300 million aid package to small businesses and nonprofits, but the legislation is stalled. GOP lawmakers told the governor that if he does not call a special session to address the need, many businesses and charities "might not survive the winter."
Lawmakers in one state, Illinois, threw up their hands and went home despite an unaddressed $3.9 billion budget deficit. They cited the health threat posed by the virus and hope for help from the nation's capital.
"If the federal government doesn't stand up and step in, we're in a very bad situation -- for our schools, colleges and universities, health care programs, child care, senior services," said House Majority Leader Greg Harris, a Democrat. "This isn't like all the blue states are hurting, and all the red states are humming along. Everybody's in bad shape."
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver another dose of stimulus to shore up an economic recovery that's starting to creak amid a second wave of covid-19.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to announce billions of additional funding in a fiscal update Monday, with dozens of new measures that could include topping off existing benefits to families and business along with teeing up money for infrastructure, day care and climate change.
The new spending will solidify the Canadian government's status as the most expansionist in the industrialized world, reflecting Trudeau's all-in commitment to put the state at the center of the nation's recovery from the pandemic.
"I want you to know that we're here for you -- for today, for tomorrow, for as long as we need to get through this. We have your back," the prime minister told reporters outside his Ottawa residence Friday.
The spending comes despite the fact that the Bank of Nova Scotia is forecasting a budget deficit in excess of $308 billion this year. That would represent 18% of gross domestic product, an exponential surge from just over 1% in 2019. No major economy will show a bigger fiscal swing in 2020, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund.
AROUND THE WORLD
In Great Britain, the government appointed a vaccines minister Saturday as it prepares to inoculate millions of people against the coronavirus, potentially starting within days.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Conservative lawmaker Nadhim Zahawi will oversee the country's biggest vaccine program in decades.
The United Kingdom medicines regulator is assessing two vaccines -- one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Oxford University and AstraZeneca -- to see if they are safe and effective. The Guardian newspaper reported that hospitals have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot the week of Dec. 7 if it receives approval.
The U.K. says front-line health care workers and nursing home residents will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by older people, starting with those above 80.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, enough for 20 million people, and 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
In all, the U.K. government has agreed to purchase up to 355 million doses of vaccine from seven producers, as it prepares to vaccinate as many of the country's 67 million people as possible.
Decisions about which, if any, vaccines to authorize will be made by the independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Elsewhere in the world, South Korea reported more than 500 new virus cases for the third-straight day Saturday, the fastest spread the country has seen since the early days of the pandemic.
The spike comes after the government eased restrictions to the lowest levels in October to support a weak economy, allowing high-risk venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and spectators to return to sports. Officials reimposed some of the restrictions this week and could be forced to clamp down further.
In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has called on people in Osaka and Sapporo to refrain from travel outside the cities, where virus cases are rising. Trips to the two cities had already been excluded from the government's tourism promotion program. "I'll immediately call on people to refrain," Suga said.
"A measure will be taken to prevent campaign users, hotels and inns from shouldering the cancellation fees," he said.Gallery: Coronavirus scenes, 11-28-2020
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to rally citizens after the country reported its worst run of fatalities since the pandemic started. "We have come a long way," she said, imploring people to wear masks and stick to social-distancing measures.
"Each and every one one of us still has a role to play," she said. Merkel's comments come after deaths exceeded 300 for a fifth day Friday, the first time that's happened. Cases reported in Europe's most-populous country exceeded 1 million Thursday.
Merkel expressed sympathy to those who have died or lost loved ones to the virus. "And we think of those who are this very hour fighting for their lives in our hospitals," she said.
Information for this article was contributed by Cedar Attanasio, Julie Carr Smyth, Jim Anderson, Patricia Nieberg, Michael Catalini, Steve Karnowski, Rachel La Corte, Geoff Mulvihill, John O'Connor, Mark Scolforo, Jill Lawless and staff members of The Associated Press; by Kait Bolongaro, Theophilos Argitis and William Wilkes of Bloomberg News; and by staff members of The Washington Post. Nieberg and Attanasio of the AP are corps members of the Report for America Statehouse Initiative, a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.