Coronavirus pandemic in the US

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Zamira Rahim, CNN

Updated 9:26 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020
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5:38 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Food prices climb an average of 2.6%, highest increase since 1974

From CNN’s Dianne Gallagher, Daniel Shepherd and Pamela Kirkland

A shopper wears a mask and gloves as he shops at a grocery store in Mount Prospect, Illinois, on Wednesday, May 13.
A shopper wears a mask and gloves as he shops at a grocery store in Mount Prospect, Illinois, on Wednesday, May 13. Nam Y. Huh/AP

April prices for supermarket staples like eggs, meat and cereal saw a the largest one month spike in close to fifty years, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, food prices climbed an average of 2.6%, highest increase since February, 1974.  

The price index for eggs climbed more than 16% — the biggest increase for any food item.

As consumers are buying more groceries and eating at home more often, David Ortega, a food economist and associate professor at Michigan State University, said he thinks it’s less of an issue of grocers taking advantage of the current market environment, and more a symptom of current market conditions.  

“For the most part, it’s supply and demand issues here, at play,” Ortega said to CNN. “What we're seeing here is economic forces at play, but also the resiliency of our food system to be able to provide food at a reasonable price." 

CNN reached out to several grocery store chains to ask about consumer concerns around rising prices at the supermarket.

Publix, one of the largest grocery store chains in the southeast, said in a statement to CNN, “In some instances, there have been price increases from manufacturers. We work extremely hard to negotiate pricing with our suppliers, so that we can offer the best price to our customers. To mitigate price increases during difficult times such as these, we also try to absorb as much of the increase as we can before having to pass along an increase to our customers." 

5:25 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

University of Louisiana will hold in-person classes this fall, school president says

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

The University of Louisiana is set to resume in-person classes this fall across all of its nine campuses, president of the university system Jim Henderson told CNN's Jake Tapper today. 

Running through details of how the institution plans to bring back 92,000 students, as well as faculty and support staff, Henderson said they'd comply with all guidance from health officials as well as the governor's office "and other policies."

"I imagine most will be wearing masks for some time, in addition to having increased hygiene," he said.

Henderson went on to say that social distancing will "become part of the new norm for us."

Asked by Tapper how he'd handle social situations such as fraternity parties, Henderson said new rules would likely be accompanied by enforcement.

"I think there's going to be significant restrictions on those types of engagements," he said.

Henderson added: "We'll certainly have some restrictions that are enforced. Enforcement is going to be key."

Henderson's announcement comes just one day after administrators at the California State University system, which claims to be the nation's biggest four-year university system, announced plans to cancel nearly all in-person classes through the fall semester to reduce spread of coronavirus.

5:28 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

JBS not allowing testing at meat packing plant in Texas' most infectious county

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin and Dianne Gallagher

In this February 22, 2018 file photo, the sun sets on the JBS USA meat packing facility in Cactus, Texas.
In this February 22, 2018 file photo, the sun sets on the JBS USA meat packing facility in Cactus, Texas. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty IMa

Despite offers from Texas, JBS has still not allowed a special state surge response team to test the roughly 3,000 employees at its plant in Cactus, a spokesperson for the Texas Division of Emergency Management told CNN.

"As of this afternoon, discussions are ongoing with company leadership to move forward," Texas DEM's spokesperson Seth Christiansen said.

A JBS spokesperson told CNN in a statement they "are coordinating with local and state officials regarding testing at our Cactus facility as we speak."

The JBS plant is located in Moore County, which has the highest known infection rate in Texas with 20.18 infections per 1,000 residents, according to state data.

The county’s rate is more than 10 times that of Harris County, the state’s most populous county, with 1.72 infections per 1,000 residents

Meanwhile, Texas' "Surge Response Teams" have tested more than 3,500 employees at a Tyson meat packing facility in the panhandle of Texas, Christiansen said.

5:01 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Illinois governor criticizes people rushing to reopen state

From CNN's Chris Boyette

In this April 17 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a coronavirus news conference in Chicago.
In this April 17 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a coronavirus news conference in Chicago. Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker took a moment at the end of his daily news conference Wednesday to “address some of what we've been hearing lately from those who believe that we need to reopen faster than the science and the data dictates.”

Pritzker said if he could take away the pain and the loss that Illinoisans are feeling right now he would but he reminded everyone that this pandemic is not over and to pretend otherwise will only make this last longer.

He addressed state and local leaders who have pushed for faster reopening and in some cases even filed lawsuits to challenge his executive orders, saying he knows leaders across the state are struggling with difficult choices but, “You weren't elected do what's easy. You were elected to do what's right.”

“Step up and lead,” he said.

To the businesses that have reopened in defiance of state orders, the governor told them there would be consequences regarding state licenses, denial of reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and law enforcement action.

“But there is no consequence the state could impose that is greater than the harm that you will do to your own community,” Pritzker said.


4:51 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Covid-19 infects the intestines, kidneys and other organs, studies find

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

The novel coronavirus can infect organs throughout the body, including lungs, throat, heart, liver, brain, kidneys and the intestines, researchers reported Wednesday.

Two separate reports suggest the virus goes far beyond the lungs and can attack various organs – findings that can help explain the wide range of symptoms caused by Covid-19 infection.

Covid-19 is classified as a respiratory virus and is transmitted through respiratory droplets, but it can also sometimes cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Researchers have found evidence of the virus in the stool of patients, and warn that it can be transmitted via what’s known as the fecal-oral route. It also attacks the kidneys, heart, brain and other organs.

What the studies found: Jie Zhou and colleagues at the University of Hong Kong wanted to see how well the virus can flourish in the intestines. They grew intestinal organoids – lab dish versions of the organs – from both bats and people. They showed the virus not only lived in these organoids, but replicated.

“The human intestinal tract might be a transmission route of SARS-CoV-2,” the team wrote in their report, published in Nature Medicine.

They also found the virus capable of infecting cells in stool taken from a patient with Covid-19.

Separately, a team at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany performed autopsies on 27 patients who died of Covid-19. They found the virus in a variety of organs.

“SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in multiple organs, including the lungs, pharynx, heart, liver, brain, and kidneys,” the researchers wrote in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The virus seemed to do especially well in the kidneys, they wrote – something that might explain the high rate of kidney injury seen among Covid-19 patients.

The ability of the virus to attack various organs might aggravate pre-existing conditions, they added. People with heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease are especially vulnerable to the new coronavirus. 

4:48 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Millions more jobless claims expected on Thursday

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

A woman looks at signs at a store in Niles, Ill., on May 13.
A woman looks at signs at a store in Niles, Ill., on May 13. Nam Y. Huh/AP

Economists polled by Refinitiv expect Thursday's initial jobless claims release to show 2.5 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week.

This would bring the total number of first-time claims filed since mid-March to 36 million — and it would mark the eighth consecutive week of claims in the millions.

Though the figures have been falling every week since they peaked at 6.9 million initial claims in the last week of March, these high levels mean that the economy and its people are still hurting.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly jobs report, America lost more than 20 million jobs in April alone, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7%.

The weekly first-time unemployment claims don't equal lost jobs, but they are the closest to a real-time measure of the economy and the labor market. Overall, the message seems to be that things aren't getting worse, but we're still in an unprecedented downturn.

4:44 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Mississippi to end suspension of evictions on June 1

From CNN's Mitchell McCluskey

Mississippi will end its temporary suspension on evictions on June 1, Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday. 

"We have to recognize that housing doesn't just happen and it doesn't grow on trees. We cannot suspend evictions forever," Reeves said.

Reeves' executive order suspending evictions went into effect on April 3.

4:43 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Most San Francisco businesses can reopen for pickup or delivery next week

From CNN’s Jenn Selva

Kenneth Lew, managing member at Crustacean Restaurant, measures distances for people to stand while waiting for takeout at the restaurant in San Francisco on May 12.
Kenneth Lew, managing member at Crustacean Restaurant, measures distances for people to stand while waiting for takeout at the restaurant in San Francisco on May 12. Jeff Chiu/AP

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said about 95% of all retail businesses that closed in the city due to Covid-19 can reopen for curbside pickup or delivery beginning May 18.

Breed said at a news conference Wednesday that as long as a business directly connects to a street to accommodate pickup or delivery, it can reopen to the public. The order, however, does not include shopping malls.

Businesses that reopen will be required to follow guidelines on the use of face coverings and physical distancing, she said.

“I’m really excited about this because this is going to not only support the jobs that hopefully many will return to as a result of this, it will support the communities and the people who love these businesses and want to see them continue,” Breed said.

4:33 p.m. ET, May 13, 2020

US could see disease outbreak in fall after reduction in vaccinations, former FDA head says

From CNN’s Shelby Lin Erdman

A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington on January 31.
A man gets a flu shot at a health facility in Washington on January 31. Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

The United States could see an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases this fall because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told a Congressional committee Wednesday. 

“We’ve seen a 90% reduction in prescriptions for vaccinations, both of those for pediatric vaccinations, or you know, pneumonia vaccinations for senior citizens,” Gottlieb told the newly formed House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “Some percentage of those individuals aren't going to go back and get back to get those and we might very, very likely see outbreaks in the fall of measles and other conditions because of declining vaccination rates.”

Gottlieb testified that there’s also been an increase in cancer patients missing chemotherapy appointments and a significant reduction on other follow-up health care visits since the coronavirus pandemic began spreading in the US earlier this year and shelter-in-place orders took effect in most states in mid-March.

“So, we're seeing public health consequences from the actions we took, there's no doubt about that. Now, the alternative was equally challenging, because without breaking the epidemic, we really wouldn't have a functional health care system and public health,” Gottlieb said.