Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:07 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020
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4:05 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Arkansas governor says restaurants can reopen on May 11

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson delivers a speech on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson delivers a speech on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his state will open restaurants for limited dine-in service on May 11.

Speaking at an afternoon news conference, Hutchinson said restaurant will only be able to operate at a third of their normal capacity. Additionally, restaurants will be limited to groups no larger than 10 people.

Hutchinson said if the state continues on a downward trend, they will move into a second phase by increasing to 67% of capacity at a later date.


4:03 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Large events will not be allowed in Rhode Island this summer, governor says

From CNN's Joe Sutton

Gov. Gina Raimondo
Gov. Gina Raimondo Pool

Large summer events are prohibited in Rhode Island this summer, Gov. Gina Raimondo said today. 

“If you’re planning a very large summer gathering, a 4th of July parade, a large music festival, a huge cultural event with hundreds and hundreds of people, you are not going to be able to have that event in the state of Rhode Island this summer with those people in person," Raimondo said.
3:51 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Fed chair says this is the worst economy in history

From CNN’s David Goldman

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell Federal Reserve

How bad is the coronavirus economy? The worst ever, says Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

"We are going to see economic data for the second quarter that is worse than any data we have seen for the economy," Powell said. "There are direct consequences of the disease and measures we are taking to protect ourselves from it."

The recovery will be long and painful, but the economy could begin to bounce back significantly in the third quarter as businesses reopen, he added. While we won't go back to pre-coronavirus levels for quite some time, the third quarter could provide some economic relief.

"We will enter the new phase — and we are just beginning to maybe do that — where we will begin formal measures that require social distancing will be rolled back, gradually, and at different paces in different parts of the country. And in time, during this period, the economy will begin to recover," Powell said.

Powell also noted that unemployment shot higher for minorities in the United States —much faster than it has for white Americans.

Just a few months ago, the US labor market was the best-ever for minorities, Powell noted. Now, minorities are among the first to lose their jobs as stay-at-home orders have shuttered restaurants, movie theaters, retailers and many other businesses.

"It is heartbreaking, frankly, to see that all threatened now," Powell said. "All the more need for our urgent response and also that of Congress, which has been urgent and large, and to do what we can to avoid longer run damage to the economy."

Powell noted that people "who are least able to bear it have been the first to lose their jobs, and they have little cushion to protect themselves.

"That is a very big concern," Powell said.

3:46 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

California initiative will supply food banks through local farms

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg

Volunteers help load food as vehicles arrive at a Los Angeles Regional Food Bank drive-thru giveaway in Pico Rivera, California on April 28.
Volunteers help load food as vehicles arrive at a Los Angeles Regional Food Bank drive-thru giveaway in Pico Rivera, California on April 28. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

California’s latest food supply initiative uses a farm to table philosophy to create stopgap measures during the pandemic with local farms and food banks working in unison.

With people out of work, food banks are seeing a 73% spike in demand, and the closure of restaurants and cancellation of events has led to a 50% decrease in demand for farm goods, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

This new program will provide food boxes filled with high quality produce, poultry and other goods to feed a family of four for a few days. There are 128 farmers and ranchers on board already, and they will supply food to 41 food banks. Another 200 participants have already been identified as the program expands.

The partnership between federal and state government also includes private funds from philanthropists, Newsom said. About $3.6 million has already been raised to start the program, with a goal of raising $15 million. Farmers will receive a tax credit of 15%, and provide for wages to farmworkers. 

Additionally, Newsom announced a federal waiver that will allow food stamp recipients to use their debit cards for online food purchases. The state has created an agreement with Amazon and Walmart, and plans to bring other retailers on board.


3:39 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Maryland reports 985 coronavirus-related deaths

From CNN’s Pamela Wessman

There are now 20,849 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan said in a news conference today.

So far, 985 residents have died and 4,402 have been hospitalized, Hogan said.

Currently, 1,610 people are hospitalized and 586 are in intensive care, he said.

3:46 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

8-year-old inspiration for Mitch Albom's coronavirus fundraising project crashes interview

CNN's Brooke Baldwin spoke to author Mitch Albom today about his new serialized story, Human Touch. He is publishing a new chapter each week online to raise money to fight Covid-19.

Albom, a long-time sportswriter and author, said the story is about an 8-year-old boy living in Detroit who is immune to getting sick during a health crisis. Albom said the main character "becomes the key to solving the whole crisis and he is based on a real 8-year-old boy" from an orphanage that Albom runs in Haiti.

In a surprise moment during the interview, Albom's eight-year-old inspiration — who is currently staying with him after traveling to the US for treatment — popped on screen with the writer.

"I bring him up for therapy and he got stuck here in the travel ban, so he's been here ever since and he is the absolute light of our lives," Albom said.


3:23 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

New York City reports more than 17,000 confirmed and probable coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Rob Frehse

New York City has reported 12,287 confirmed and 5,302 probable coronavirus deaths, according to the city website.

The New York City Health Department defines probable deaths as people who did not have a positive Covid-19 laboratory test, but their death certificate lists as the cause of death “Covid-19” or an equivalent.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus deaths and probable coronavirus deaths in New York City is 17,589

There have been 159,865 coronavirus cases in the city and approximately 41,316 people have been hospitalized, according to the city.

The data is from the New York City Health Department and was updated on April 29 at 1 p.m., according to the website.

3:17 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Customers should wear face coverings at Ohio businesses, official says

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted
Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted The Ohio Channel


Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said customers should wear face coverings when they visit businesses, but will not be required to do so.

Workers, however, will be required to wear face coverings, he said.

According to Husted, there are exceptions to that mandate. They are... 

  • An employee in a particular position is prohibited by a law or regulation from wearing a face covering while on the job.
  • Wearing a face covering on the job is against documented industry best practices.
  • Wearing a face covering is not advisable for health purposes.
  • If wearing a face covering is a violation of a company’s safety policies.
  • An employee is sitting alone in an enclosed workspace.
  • There is a practical reason a face covering cannot be worn by an employee.

Husted said if any of these exceptions apply to a certain business or an employee, written justification must be provided when requesting an exemption from the mandate.


3:19 p.m. ET, April 29, 2020

Pig farmer says he may be forced to euthanize hogs as meat processing plants struggle during pandemic

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury, Ann Colwell and Rob McLean

President Trump signed an executive order requiring meat processing plants to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic, but plant workers are concerned about their safety and say they’re not going to show up.

This stall in the meat producing pipeline is having a ripple effect and impacting farmers.

According to one estimate from the National Pork Board, more than 1.5 million hogs will have to be destroyed in the coming weeks as farmers run out of space to maintain them.  

Minnesota based pig farmer Mike Patterson told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin that he will soon be forced to euthanize hogs on his farm.

Patterson said he has about 3,000 hogs on his farm and was scheduled to start selling to Smithfield Foods, Inc. in Sioux Falls on April 15, but still hasn't sold any hogs.

“At some point, there's … no way we're going to be able to handle the backlog because the plants won't even be at full capacity when they do get running,” he said.

On Tuesday, Trump signed the order after some companies, such as Tyson Foods, were considering only keeping 20% of their facilities open. The vast majority of processing plants could have shut down — which would have reduced processing capacity in the country by as much as 80%, an official familiar with the order told CNN.