Watch: Thousands affected by coronavirus lockdowns in US line up for free groceries

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The coronavirus pandemic has shut down nonessential businesses across the United States, with more than 90 percent of Americans under some kind of stay-at-home order, depriving millions of a paycheck.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

People struggling to make ends meet have been lining up by the thousands to pick up free groceries from food banks and charities.

A pop-up food pantry in Southern California last week drew so many people that the line of cars waiting for free groceries stretched about a mile (1.6 km), a haunting sign of how the coronavirus pandemic has hurt the working poor.

Hundreds of other people, many wearing trash bags to shelter from the rain, arrived at the one-day grocery giveaway on foot, forming a blocks-long queue in Van Nuys, in the central San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles.

Organizers said they had enough groceries to hand out to more than 2,500 families, with each receiving a 36-pound (16-kg) box of rice, lentils and other staples as well as frozen chicken, oranges and other foods.

Read more: Economic crisis versus coronavirus: What is more deadly?

Meanwhile, the US National Guard distributed food packages in Chelsea, the city with the highest coronavirus infection rate in Massachusetts. A major part of its population lives at or below the poverty line, AFP reported. Over a thousand of food packages, which come from local companies, the Salvation Army and donations, are expected to be distributed per day.

In New York City, located in the state that has become the United States’ coronavirus outbreak epicenter, people also lined up to pick up bags of food distributed by a charity to help those struggling.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday extended his shutdown order in the US coronavirus outbreak epicenter until May 15, citing data showing improved conditions but insisting on the need to maintain vigilance.

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