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Coronavirus update: Pork shortage looms, Dr. Fauci sees some hope

Cash-desperate airlines may sell miles to bolster revenue

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 558,526  (555,313)

Total U.S. deaths: 22,146 (22,020)

Total global cases: 1,872,073  (1,846,680)

Total global deaths: 116,052 (114,090)

Smithfield warns of a pork shortage 

You may have noticed your supermarket meat counter looking a little thin lately. First, it was because of panic buying. Lately, it appears to be a supply issue.

South Dakota’s largest pork plant, operated by Smithfield, remains closed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The company’s CEO, Ken Sullivan, says that’s bad news for both consumers and farmers.

“We have a stark choice as a nation: we are either going to produce food or not, even in the face of COVID-19,” Sullivan said in a statement. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem ordered the Sioux Falls plant to remain closed after more than 200 employees tested positive for the virus.

Hopeful comments from Dr. Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAD), expressed some hope over the weekend that the coronavirus may be slowing. But on CBS’ Face the Nation, he warned that the country is still “struggling” to keep it under control.

Fauci also warned that the number of new cases hasn’t peaked and that it is likely to get worse before it gets better. He also prepared Americans for the fact that deaths will probably rise as the number of cases falls, calling deaths a “lagging indicator.”

Airlines may sell miles to raise cash

The nation’s airlines have been among the businesses hardest hit by the coronavirus because consumers have abruptly stopped traveling. By some estimates, traffic is down over 90 percent.

To raise cash, The Wall Street Journal reports that United and Delta are considering selling future miles to meet today’s cash needs. The report says the two airlines are in discussions with JPMorgan Chase and American Express to dump the miles ahead of schedule. If it did, it’s not clear if it would create bargains for consumers.

New York City having a good day

New York City, which has seen the worst of the coronavirus illnesses and deaths in the U.S., appears to be on the mend. The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, says the rate of hospitalizations from the virus has fallen for another day, relieving some of the pressure on health care workers.

But the mayor did not let up in his urging of the city’s residents to maintain social distancing measures, saying they appear to be helping. De Blasio also said the percentage of people who are testing positive for the virus has declined, along with the number of people in hospital intensive care units.

Around the nation

  • New Jersey: The pandemic is causing a lot of changes that would be unthinkable under normal circumstances. The state Supreme Court has ruled that recent law school graduates can practice law in the state -- at least temporarily -- without passing the bar exam.

  • Colorado: State officials are expressing some frustration because they say personal protective equipment for health care workers remains hard to get. They also say testing remains sporadic. “We are relieved that we have finally received materials from the Strategic National Stockpile, but it’s not nearly enough,” said Scott Bookman, incident commander at the state health department.

  • Wisconsin: The closely followed model of coronavirus cases indicates hospitalizations from the virus peaked on Sunday. However, state health officials say that all depends on whether the state’s residents maintain required social distancing measures.

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