COVID-19 live updates: 1 out of 8 Americans has tested positive for COVID-19

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(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

More than 643,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.5 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 61.7% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:

Sep 04, 6:58 pm
3 Florida school districts challenge health department rule over masks

Three Florida school districts have filed a legal challenge against the state health department, seeking to invalidate an emergency rule that allows parents to opt out of mask mandates.

The petition, filed Friday, argues that the emergency rule — issued after Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the health department to protect parents’ choice when it comes to masking their children — exceeds its authority and is invalid.

The school districts in Alachua, Broward and Orange counties, which all require students and staff to wear masks, requested that an administrative judge hear the case.

Florida’s education commissioner has withheld the salaries of school board members in Alachua and Broward counties over their mask mandates — and has threatened similar action in Orange County.

Last week, a Tallahassee judge ruled in favor of a group of parents who sued the state over its ban on mask mandates. That ruling is being appealed.

-ABC News’ Will McDuffie

Sep 04, 2:08 pm
TSA sees Labor Day weekend travel uptick

Over 2.1 million people were screened at U.S. airport security check points Friday — the highest checkpoint volume since Aug. 15, Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.

Americans have flocked to airports to travel for the Labor Day weekend despite the threat of the delta variant and surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The U.S.’ daily case average remains around 153,000 cases a day, up by approximately 964% in the last two months.

Overnight Friday, the U.S. recorded its second single-highest day of COVID cases this week with more than 170,000 new cases reported.

Every state in the country is currently experiencing high community transmission. The South still leads the country with the highest case rates. Tennessee, and South Carolina currently have the country’s highest case rate, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Wyoming, all with case rates above 600 per 100,000 people.

-ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway and Arielle Mitropoulos

Sep 04, 1:37 pm
COVID-19 restrictions in place for Philadelphia’s Made In America Festival

This year’s Made In America festival over Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia will go on with COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite surging delta variant cases and flooding from the Schuylkill River that inundated the Ben Franklin Parkway with water, the festival will continue, officials said.

“I think it’s good for the city to have this kind of event, so we can celebrate a little bit even in the midst of potential tragedy. Jay-Z, Beyonce, the Biebs (Justin Bieber) is coming,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Friday. “It’ll be fun for a change…be nice to have some fun, wouldn’t it?”

Roc Nation, which is producing the two-day festival, said all attendees will need to wear masks. Attendees will also have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or printed proof of full COVID-19 vaccination to get in.

“The negative COVID-19 test result must be obtained within 48 hours of attending the Made In America festival,” said Roc Nation on the festival’s website.

Philadelphia officials also updated the city’s mask mandate in August to require masks at all non-seated outdoor events with over 1,000 attendees.

Sep 04, 12:37 pm
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s wife Jacqueline released from hospital after COVID-19 treatment

Jacqueline L. Jackson, the wife of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr, has been released from the hospital after receiving treatment for COVID-19, her family said Friday.

“Our mother is leaving the Northwestern Memorial Hospital and coming home,” the family said in a statement. “Our family is grateful to God and the medical team that treated her and that is allowing her body to continue to heal from the COVID-19 virus.”

She had been in the ICU after testing positive for the virus. Jacqueline, 77, was not vaccinated.

Her husband Rev. Jesse Jackson, 79, remains at The Shirley Ryan Ability Lab where he’s receiving intensive occupational and physical therapy. He has Parkinson’s disease and was vaccinated, ABC Chicago station WLS reported.

“We urge all who have not yet been vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus to do so immediately,” the family said in a statement.

The family had announced the couple was hospitalized with COVID-19 on Aug. 21.

Sep 04, 11:58 am
Stillwater, Oklahoma, declares state of emergency, overflow tents set up

The mayor of Stillwater, Oklahoma, declared a state of emergency for the city that started Friday due to a soaring number of hospital patients and a shortage of medical staff.

Overflow tents have been set up outside the Stillwater Medical Center Emergency Department to deal with the influx.

The state’s department of health is deploying the Medical Reserve Corps. and additional medical professionals to help in overflow tents.

“Our health professionals have incessantly warned us that we may reach the point when much-needed medical attention, COVID or non-COVID related, may not be available,” Mayor Will Joyce said in a release. “We have now reached that critical threshold where our hospital no longer has available staffed beds.”

“It is critical that each of us become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks when possible,” he added.

Officials said Stillwater Medical, which serves in a six-county area, is at full capacity.

In the crisis, residents and visitors who go to the hospital for treatment over the weekend may be diverted to nearby or out-of-state facilities.

There are zero ICU beds available across the four largest hospital systems in Oklahoma City, ABC local affiliate in Oklahoma City KOCO reported.

Concerns are mounting especially as Stillwater hosts events and activities that kick off Saturday and have the potential to attract an influx of 40,000 visitors.

Sep 03, 6:46 pm
Oscar De La Hoya hospitalized with COVID-19, will miss comeback fight

Hall of Fame boxer Oscar De La Hoya said on social media Friday he is hospitalized with COVID-19.

Due to his illness, he won’t be able to fight former UFC champion Vitor Belfort on Sept. 11 in Los Angeles, which would have been De La Hoya’s first bout since 2008.

“Preparing for this comeback has been everything to me over the last months, and I want to thank everyone for their tremendous support,” De La Hoya, 48, said in an Instagram post, noting that he is fully vaccinated. “I am currently in the hospital getting treatment and am confident I will be back in the ring before the year is up. God bless everyone and stay safe.”

Sep 03, 4:06 pm
Florida Governor appeals court ruling invalidating his ban on student mask mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis filed an appeal against a court ruling invalidating his ban on student mask mandates Thursday evening.

The governor had banned school districts from implementing mask mandates without a parent opt-out.

The move unleashed a stay of proceedings that enables the state to continue punishing districts, at least until Wednesday, when a judge will decide whether to vacate the stay.

In the meantime, school board members across the state could continue to lose their salaries if their schools set mask mandates — a punishment given to board members in two counties and threatened to those in eight others.

The appeal comes a week after Judge John C. Cooper found that a blanket ban on face masks in schools “does not meet constitutional muster.”

Sep 03, 3:22 pm
1 out of 8 Americans has tested positive for COVID-19, 1 out of 510 Americans has died from the virus

The country’s COVID death toll has risen to more than 643,000 and the number of cases stands at 39.5 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

That means 1 out of 8 Americans has tested positive for COVID-19 and 1 out of 510 Americans has died of the virus.

Heading into Labor Day weekend health experts are urging the public, especially the unvaccinated, to act responsibly as the delta variant continues to fuel infections.

Holidays have proven to be a catalyst for virus spread in the U.S.

Last summer, shortly after Labor Day, the U.S. fell into its most significant viral surge of the pandemic.

Between the week following last Labor Day and Thanksgiving alone, the nation’s daily case average surged by more than 400%

Sep 03, 11:16 am
U.S. administers highest number of vaccine doses since July

Over “1.40M doses reported administered over yesterday’s total, including 550K newly vaccinated and 96K additional doses,” White House COVID-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar said Friday.

That’s the highest dose total since July 1, he said.

So far over 175 million people, or 61.9% of the eligible population, are fully vaccinated.

Sep 03, 9:49 am
CDC estimates 83% of US blood donors have been vaccinated or previously infected

A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 83% of blood donors in the nation have either been vaccinated against COVID-19 or were previously infected with the virus.

This, however, does not mean that more than 80% of Americans are immune from infection. That’s because neither vaccination nor prior infection provides 100% protection — antibodies are just one part of the overall immune response, and immunity wanes over time. The analysis also may overestimate the portion of people with antibodies because blood donors may be more likely to be vaccinated or have previously been infected.

The study, posted online Tuesday by JAMA Network Open, a monthly open access medical journal published by the American Medical Association, took a snapshot of the presence of antibodies from COVID-19 vaccination or prior infection in about 1.4 million donated blood samples from across the United States. The repeated cross-sectional analysis was conducted each month during July 2020 through May 2021, before delta became the predominant variant of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.

The study shows that the number of blood donors who tested positive for antibodies, indicating either vaccination or prior infection, has gone up over time, from 3.5% in July 2020 to 20.2% for infection-induced antibodies and 83.3% for both infection- and vaccine-induced antibodies in May 2021.

Being vaccinated offers better protection compared to prior infection, and it’s recommended that people who have previously contracted COVID-19 should still get inoculated.

Sep 03, 8:46 am
EU to return millions of J&J doses it imported from Africa

The European Union will be returning some 20 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine that were imported from a plant in South Africa, and the shots filled and finished there will no longer leave the African continent.

African Union special envoy Strive Masiyiwa, who heads the regional bloc’s COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, told reporters Thursday that the decision was made at a meeting last week between South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Johnson & Johnson’s South African partner, Aspen Pharmacare, has a contract to import the drug substance for the one-dose vaccine from the American pharmaceutical giant and then package them — the so-called fill-and-finish process — at its facility in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

“All the vaccines produced at Aspen will stay in Africa and will be distributed to Africa,” Masiyiwa said at a press conference Thursday.

The decision came amid criticism of the arrangement, with the World Health Organisation’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is Ethiopian, saying last month that he was “stunned” that vaccines will be shipped from Africa to Europe. Just 3% of people in Africa, the world’s second-largest, second-most populous continent, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In comparison, 57% of people are fully vaccinated in the European Union and 52% in the United States, according to the WHO.

Sep 03, 3:33 am
Nearly 300 children currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Texas

Nearly 300 children are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Texas, state data shows.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services’ online COVID-19 dashboard, which was last updated on Thursday afternoon, there are 282 pediatric patients in hospitals across the Lone Star State.

The data also shows there are 81 staffed pediatric intensive care unit beds available in all of Texas.

Sep 03, 3:19 am
2-dose vaccine ‘appears to be enough,’ FDA adviser says

Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee, said a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine “appears to be enough” to curb infection, rather than adding a booster shot.

“You look at states in the United States that have high immunization rates with a two-dose vaccine, it appears the two doses appears to be enough to be able to control this infection,” Offit, who is also the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told ABC News on Thursday night. “I think the critical issue here is not going to be boosting the vaccinated. I think if we really want to get on top of this pandemic, it’s going to be about vaccinating the unvaccinated.”

The FDA’s vaccine advisory committee is set to hold a key meeting on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots on Sept. 17, just three days before the Biden administration plans to begin offering the shots to Americans.

“If the companies or the FDA can make a case that there has been an erosion in protection against severe critical disease and that that erosion in protection against severe disease would be mediated or eliminated by a third dose, then we could move forward,” Offit said. “But to date, we really need to see those data to be able to make that decision.”

Sep 02, 7:02 pm
Pediatric hospitalizations nearly 4 times higher in states with low vaccination: CDC

Two studies to be published Friday found fewer pediatric hospitalizations among children and communities with higher vaccination rates, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

In one study, national data from August showed that children were nearly four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 in the states with the lowest vaccination rates when compared to states with the highest rates — proof that “cocooning” children with vaccinated people keeps them safe, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing Thursday.

The second study, which looked at hospitalizations rates in 12- to 17-year-olds across 14 states during July, found that adolescents who were unvaccinated were 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than their fully vaccinated peers, Walensky said.

“Both studies, one thing is clear: cases, emergency room visits and hospitalizations are much lower among children and communities with higher vaccination rates,” Walensky said. “We must come together to ensure that our children, indeed, our future, remain safe and healthy during this time.”

Sep 02, 4:11 pm
8 Florida school districts refuse to reverse mask mandates

Eight school districts in Florida told the state’s education commissioner that they would not reverse their mask requirements for students, clearing the way for the state to retaliate by withholding the salaries of school board members.

The eight districts — Duval, Hillsborough, Indian River, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach and Sarasota — each wrote a letter to Commissioner Richard Corcoran Wednesday saying they believed they were following state law and had no plans to stop requiring face coverings for students.

Corcoran had given each district until 5 p.m. Wednesday to reverse their mandates, threatening to recommend to the state education board that it withhold the salaries of board members if they did not change course.

The state education department announced Monday it would take such action against board members in Alachua and Broward counties over their school mask mandates.

On Friday, a Florida judge ruled that school boards can enact student mask mandates and ordered the state education department to stop enforcing a state rule requiring districts to allow parents to opt-out.

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