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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10:03 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

US unemployment rate will probably peak in the "next month or so," Federal Reserve chair says

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

In February, the US unemployment rate was near a 50-year low of 3.5%. In April, it skyrocketed to 14.7%, the highest level ever recorded since 1948 when the government began tracking the monthly data.

The road back to a healthier labor market will be painful, said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell during a virtual event at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

It will be particularly painful because recently hired and lower-paid workers are the ones bearing the brunt of the pain, Powell said.

The unemployment rate will probably peak "over the course of the next month or so," he added, and it's reasonable to expect a decline in the unemployment rate after. This decline might even be sharp, but US unemployment will likely remain well above the lows seen at the start of the year.

10:02 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Why California State canceled most in-person classes, according to its Monterey Bay president

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

California State University of Long Beach sits empty on March 17 in Long Beach, California.
California State University of Long Beach sits empty on March 17 in Long Beach, California. Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram/Getty Images

The California State University system canceled most in-person classes through the fall semester.

This decision was based on concerns around class sizes due to social distancing guidelines and the ability to perform tests and contact tracing, according to Eduardo M. Ochoa, President of California State University, Monterey Bay.

“In the calculations that we made in our campus, we found that in order to maintain social distancing guidelines, we would have to reduce the capacity of our classrooms to 25% of their normal levels. So we would have to drastically reduce the number of students enrolled at least in face to face instruction. And it just didn’t seem viable,” he said.

“We were also very concerned about our ability to do testing and tracing of contacts,” he added. “Frankly, the prospect of bringing students from across the state and across the country to converge on little Monterey County, we face the prospect of turning the campus into a cluster that would actually single-handedly drive infection rates in our county. We didn’t really want to do that.”

The health experts expect coronavirus to rebound in the fall and winter, “so we want to be able to provide our students and their families with sufficient planning time,” according to Soraya Coley, President of Cal Poly Pomona.

“We also want to use this as an opportunity to review what we’ve done in the last several months, and to use this summer to be very intentional about providing the kind of quality education that the state system is known for," Coley said.

Virtual education, she says, “is different. It does not mean that it is less quality.”

9:51 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Stocks fall after Federal Reserve chair says economic risks remain

From CNN’s David Goldman and Anneken Tappe 

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a press briefing on March 3 in Washington.
US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a press briefing on March 3 in Washington. Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Stocks fell at the open as investors digested comments from Federal Reserce Chair Jerome Powell, who said significant risks remain in the economy and recovery isn't here yet.

Here's how the markets opened:

9:50 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Why grocery costs are spiking in the Covid-19 era

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

A man shops in the meat section at a grocery store on April 28 Washington.
A man shops in the meat section at a grocery store on April 28 Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The price of food staples, such as eggs, meats and cereal, climbed in April as more Americans stocked up on food during the coronavirus pandemic.

Food prices for groceries recorded its biggest increase since February 1974, rising 2.6%, according to the Labor Department on Tuesday.

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

The increase was broad-based, with all six major grocery store food groups increasing at least 1.5% over the month, according to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics .

Meanwhile, prices of other industries are tumbling: The grocery numbers stand in contrast to the broader trend in US prices, where prices fell by 0.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, marking the largest drop since December 2008.

That's an alarming drop, dragged down primarily by falling gasoline and energy prices. But excluding volatile food and energy, prices still fell by 0.4%. That's the largest monthly decline in the so-called core consumer price index since the BLS began tracking the data in 1957.

Some context: Economists expected the coronavirus crisis to have a largely deflationary effect. The April data is proof of that. That's bad news for policy makers at the Federal Reserve, who like to keep inflation at around 2% — widely accepted as the ideal balance for the US economy.

"Even as the economy reopens, core inflation is likely headed below 1% in the coming year in the face of high unemployment and low commodity prices," said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist at BMO.
9:50 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Burden of pandemic falls "most heavily on those least able to bear it," Federal Reserve chair says

From CNN’s Anneken Tappe

Hundreds of people wait in line for hours at a downtown Brooklyn office for their EBT Food Stamp cards on May 12 in New York City.
Hundreds of people wait in line for hours at a downtown Brooklyn office for their EBT Food Stamp cards on May 12 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The coronavirus crisis has devastated the US economy over the past weeks — and the "scope and speed of this downturn are without modern precedent," according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

It's "significantly worse than any recession since World War II," the Fed chief said in prepared remarks at a virtual event hosted by the Peterson Institute of International Economics.

"People have put their lives and livelihoods on hold, making enormous sacrifices to protect not just their own health and that of their loved ones, but also their neighbors and the broader community. While we are all affected, the burden has fallen most heavily on those least able to bear it," he said, according to the remarks.

Powell noted the country has already erased almost all the job gains of the last decade, and the labor woes are hurting low-income families in particular.

Almost 40% of households earning less than $40,000 a year as of February lost their jobs in March, he added, citing a forthcoming Fed survey.

9:33 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

New Orleans will start reopening on Saturday. Here's what's allowed to reopen.

From CNN's Raja Razek

Bourbon Street is seen nearly empty in New Orleans on April 23.
Bourbon Street is seen nearly empty in New Orleans on April 23. Claire Bangser/AFP/Getty Images

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that the city would reopen in a "very slow" manner starting Saturday.

"Based on the guidance of our health care professionals, we are where we need to be to slowly reopen the city," she said yesterday. "If we do not do well in this first phase, we will not be going to any other phase." 

Phase 1 will start at 6 a.m. on Saturday. At that time...

  • Restaurants can open, but they need reservations to have a log for contact tracing.
  • Gyms can open under 25% occupancy without group activities. Personal training is approved in this initial phase, according to Cantrell. 
  • Churches will be allowed to open at 25% capacity or at 100 people, whichever is smaller. 

During this phase, the city is mandating residents to wear face coverings in public. Close contact businesses — such as spas, massage parlors and tattoo shops — will not be allowed to reopen in phase one, according to Cantrell. 

9:33 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Avoid crowded and noisy indoor spaces to lessen coronavirus risks, this biologist says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

People dine in a restaurant on March 27 in Stockholm, Sweden.
People dine in a restaurant on March 27 in Stockholm, Sweden. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

You could be singing, cheering on your favorite sports team at a match or just talking loudly. But in any of these cases, the coronavirus can spread fairly rapidly, according to Erin Bromage, a biology professor at UMass Dartmouth.

He cautioned against being in noisy and crowded indoor spaces — especially if there is poor air circulation.

When singing, he said “you are pushing a lot of air out. And it expels a lot more respiratory droplets into the air.”

“Being in an enclosed space and singing like that for a number of hours, just allows it to build up in the environment around you,” he added. “You’re taking big deep breaths in order to sing your next note or next piece and that, you know, facilitates the virus getting into you and even deeper down into your throat and into your lungs. Which just helps with establishing the infection.”

When it comes to talking, “normal talking releases a certain amount of respiratory droplets. And the louder you talk, the more you release," he said.

So in an environment where people are talking loudly, it just means there will be more respiratory droplets in the air if there are infected people around, he said.

Bromage also said that sports arenas need to be thought through.

“It is not like a single person in an arena can infect everybody. But if you’re yelling and screaming and supporting your team, those people in the spray zone of your voice, you know, you’re putting them in danger," he said.


9:49 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

Nancy Pelosi on $3 trillion relief proposal: "The American people are worth it"

From CNN's Haley Byrd and Nicky Robertson

Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the new Democratic proposal for $3 trillion in coronavirus relief, saying the sweeping plan embodies “what we think this country needs.”

"This is all about the here and now. It isn’t about politics, it’s about humanity,” she said during an interview on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe'.

About the package: The plan largely reflects Democratic priorities, and as it was not the product of bipartisan negotiations with the Senate, it is not expected to advance past the House. It is expected to cost more than $3 trillion, dwarfing the stimulus measure enacted in March, which was more than $2 trillion and at the time amounted to the largest emergency aid package in American history.

“I don’t call it a wishlist,” Pelosi said today. "I call it an American wishlist."

“It’s a big ticket. It’s a lot of money. The American people are worth it,” she added.

8:13 a.m. ET, May 13, 2020

It's just past 8 a.m. in New York. Here's what you may have missed

  • At least 82,387 coronavirus deaths have been recorded in the US: There are also at least 1,369,964 cases of the disease in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University's latest tally.
  • Key model predicts increased US death toll: The model suggests that 147,000 coronavirus deaths will occur in the US by August 4.That’s an increase of about 10,000 deaths compared to the model’s estimate from this weekend, which was already higher than earlier projections.
  • Mike Pompeo arrives in Israel: The US Secretary of State posted pictures of himself wearing a red, white and blue face mask after touching down at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
  • Joe Biden's advisers want people entering his home tested for Covid-19: The Democratic frontrunner's public health advisory council has suggested that Biden and those entering his home should be tested for the disease. Biden discussed the advice in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine.