Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 4:37 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020
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12:13 p.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Military jets flyover New York City to honor frontline workers

US Navy and Air Force jets flew over New York City at noon today to pay tribute to health care workers, first responders and essential workers on the frontlines in the fight against coronavirus.

US Air Force Thunderbird F-16 jets and US Navy Blue Angel jets participated in the flyover near Manhattan.

Watch the moment:

12:12 p.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Pennsylvania adds more than 1,200 coronavirus cases

From CNN's Joe Sutton

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says there are 1,214 additional positive cases of Covid-19, bringing the statewide total to 43,264. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases. The state is now reporting 1,716 deaths. 

“As we see the number of new Covid-19 cases continuously change across the state that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a news release.

“We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”
12:02 p.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Waffle House CEO outlines how the chain is implementing social distancing 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Ron Flexon sits at the counter for dine-in service while other seats are marked off for social distancing protocol at Waffle House on April 27, in Brookhaven, Georgia.
Ron Flexon sits at the counter for dine-in service while other seats are marked off for social distancing protocol at Waffle House on April 27, in Brookhaven, Georgia. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Waffle House’s CEO Walt Ehmer said that he has seen “a little bit more traffic” in restaurants that have opened limited in-dining operations, but people are still largely practicing social distancing guidelines. 

“Even though we didn't really reopen, we just added some limited in-house dining to what we were already doing, I'm seeing so far that our customers…are still behaving according to what they've been instructed to do in terms of social distancing,” Ehmer told CNN’s John King. 

Ehmer said Waffle House, which is headquartered in Georgia, is following CDC and state guidelines on reopening. They’ve cut down capacity in restaurants so people can sit at least six feet apart, he said. 

Waffle House is famous for almost never shutting down its restaurants. It typically only closes during major disasters like hurricanes or storms. The Federal Emergency Management Agency even coined the term "Waffle House Index" to measure the effect of a natural disaster on an area. 

Ehmer noted that customers have been placing to-go orders for the past six weeks.

“People do seem to value a little bit of a sense of normalcy and a hope that maybe better days are ahead, but it is definitely a gradual process that will take us to the next stage of this,” he said. 

But Ehmer said that while he is pleased with unemployment help given to Americans so far, he is uneasy about the long-term economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Long-term is what we're pretty concerned about at this time in terms of what will the ultimate impact to the economy be with so many people being out of work for so long,” he said. 

4:37 p.m. ET, April 30, 2020

Economist for National Pork Board estimates 1.5 million hogs will have to be killed in coming weeks 

From CNN's Gregory Lemos  

A Berkshire hog stands in a pen on a farm near Clear Lake, Iowa, on April 17.
A Berkshire hog stands in a pen on a farm near Clear Lake, Iowa, on April 17. Charlie Neibergall/AP

As the meat supply chain and hog farmers continue to suffer from Covid-19 outbreaks in processing plants, an economist at Kerns & Associates, the firm employed by the National Pork Board, estimates more than 1.5 million hogs will have to be destroyed in the coming weeks as farmers simply run out of space to maintain them.  

"We're going to have to destroy those pigs to get them out of the way," Dr. Steve Meyer told CNN Tuesday. "And next week we will have some more." 

Meyer said there were around 600,000 hogs last week that did not go to slaughter and around 900,000 this week. Meyer estimates the cost of raising each hog is around $140, a total loss if the animal doesn't go through processing.  

"The real issue is that nobody wants to be here and do this," Meyer said of the toll the pandemic is taking on hog farmers. "There's no way to plan for something like this. You can't plan for a once in a 100 year event." 

CLARIFICATION: The headline has been updated to clarify that an economist from the National Pork Board estimated 1.5 million hogs will have to be killed in coming weeks.

 

11:28 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

There have been at least 56,000 coronavirus deaths in the US

A person wearing a face shield and a mask walks in the streets in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens on April 28, in New York City.
A person wearing a face shield and a mask walks in the streets in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens on April 28, in New York City. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

There are at least 989,357 cases of coronavirus in the US, and at least 56,386 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases in the United States,

The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.

 

11:17 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

House reverses plan to come back to DC next week

From CNN's Haley Byrd

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer speaks to members of the media on March 13, in Washington, DC.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer speaks to members of the media on March 13, in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on a phone call with reporters today that Democratic leaders came to the judgment late Monday that the House will not come back next week, a reversal from the plan they advanced yesterday afternoon.

Hoyer said the attending physician's points that the numbers in D.C. are still going up and the surrounding area is a hotspot, as well as the fact that the next coronavirus relief package will “not be definitely ready to be considered next week” contributed to the decision.

10:38 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

New York City high school seniors will have a virtual graduation

From CNN’s Mark Morales and Elizabeth Joseph

All New York City high school seniors are going to be celebrated in a citywide virtual graduation, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this morning.

“We’re going to do one big citywide virtual graduation ceremony, we’re going to do one big celebration of New York City’s high school seniors. We’re going to make it something very special. You may not have the traditional ceremony that you were looking forward to, we’re going to give you something you’re going to remember for the rest of your life and you will cherish,” he said, speaking directly to students and their parents during a virtual press conference.

The city will bring together “some very special guests” to celebrate the graduating class, he said. "Expect it to be something very special and very memorable,” de Blasio added. 

Additional details are expected in the weeks ahead.

10:38 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Dr. Fauci on a second wave of coronavirus: "I'm almost certain it will come back"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House on April 22.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House on April 22. Alex Brandon/AP

Top US infectious disease doctor Anthony Fauci said today "I'm almost certain it will come back" when he was asked about the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 hitting later this year.

"In my mind, it's inevitable that we will have a return of the virus," Fauci said while speaking to the Economic Club of Washington on a Zoom call.

He said that the virus has "globally spread" — noting that we are starting to see cases in parts of Southern Africa. "It's not going to disappear from the planet," he said.

Fauci said that if the virus returns later this year, "how we handle it...will determine our fate."

He said that if "countermeasures" that are being discussed are executed, "we should do reasonably well," otherwise the country could see a "bad fall" and "bad winter."

10:22 a.m. ET, April 28, 2020

Farmers are "in peril" as plants close due to coronavirus concerns, pork producer says 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

The Smithfield Foods pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is seen on April 20.
The Smithfield Foods pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is seen on April 20. Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

Farmers are facing a crisis as meat plants close during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Iowa pork producer and president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council Jen Sorenson. 

“We're in complete peril. … We need help, we need direct payments, we need support, and we need indemnification and support as we look to euthanizing a large number of hogs, which is inevitably what we have to do if we can't keep our plants open,” Sorenson said. 

As plants producing 33% of the nation’s pork supplies have closed, Sorenson said farmers are on the brink of bankruptcy.  

“We’re in a downward spiral. If we don't do something quickly, we'll see further consolidation and loss of thousands of family farms,” she told CNN’s Jim Sciutto. 

Three of the nation's largest pork processing plants have been temporarily shut down because of coronavirus concerns among workers. House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson said yesterday that farmers now have a huge overstock of pigs that must be euthanized — estimating that there are roughly 60,000 to 70,000 pigs a day that could be killed in order to make space at farms. Peterson said the country could see pork shortages in grocery stores by next week, but Sorenson says the biggest crisis is on farms right now.  

 “The crisis is our hogs that are backing up, they have no place to go, we have new hogs coming into our barns. And we need a solution, we need our county, state and federal, local officials to work together and wrap our arms around the food chain and try and keep these plants open,” she said.