(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.
More than 663,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.6 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 63% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Sep 15, 6:58 pm
NYC health officials investigating cases linked to Labor Day concert
New York City’s Heath Department announced Wednesday it is investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases that were linked to a Labor Day weekend concert.
At least 16 people have been identified as part of the cluster linked to the Electric Zoo music festival on Randall’s Island, which is located in the East River, the department said.
Eight people have been also been identified who “though likely exposed prior to attending the concert,” were in attendance while potentially contagious, according to the health department.
“Anyone who attended this festival should get tested immediately, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. This is especially urgent if attendees are experiencing symptoms,” New York City’s health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said in a statement.
The concert’s organizers had strict rules for entrance.
Attendees had to show proof of vaccination that matched their photo ID. Unvaccinated ticket holders were allowed in if they showed proof of a negative test “no more than 3 days prior to each day of attendance,” according to the concert’s website.
Sep 15, 5:58 pm
CDC committee meeting to discuss booster shots
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is planning to meet on Sept. 22 and 23 and is prepared to discuss COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
This will delay the potential start date of boosters until at least late next week, past the president’s planned start date for boosters on Sept. 20.
The White House acknowledged that the start date is ultimately up to the CDC and Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA advisory panel is currently scheduled to hold a public hearing on boosters for the Pfizer vaccine and will have a non-binding vote later that day.
If the FDA approves, the ACIP will discuss and vote on recommendations, such as who should get the boosters and when.
The CDC director will make the ultimate decision on the boosters following the ACIP recommendations.
-ABC News’ Eric Strauss
Sep 15, 4:00 pm
Moderna makes the case for boosters
Moderna on Wednesday released its own analysis of various studies, making the case that the company’s original vaccine appears to generate the strongest protection among the three currently authorized vaccines, but also saying people who got their vaccine will also need a booster six months later.
Like Pfizer, Moderna is requesting authorization for a booster dose six months after the primary vaccination based on evidence that boosters are safe and generate immune response, and based on newly published data from its phase 3 trial showing a lower risk of breakthrough infections among people vaccinated eight months ago compared to people vaccinated 13 months ago.
Unlike Pfizer, Moderna’s third booster will be a half-dose. Moderna says its data shows that boosting with a half-shot seems to generate more than enough immune response.
-ABC News’ Sony Salzman
Sep 15, 3:18 pm
9 states have more hospitalizations than any point in pandemic
In the last five weeks, the U.S. hasn’t reported a single day with fewer than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases, according to federal data. In the nearly six months between Feb. 7 and July 29, there was not a single day with more than 100,000 new cases.
Nine states — Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia — currently have more patients hospitalized than at any other point in the pandemic, according to federal data.
But the CDC says hospital admissions will likely decrease over the next four weeks.
Sep 15, 2:47 pm
LA County to require vaccine, negative test for clubs, concerts
Los Angeles County will require vaccination or proof of a negative test for events with more than 10,000 people, including clubs, concerts and sporting events.
As of Tuesday, LA County had 1,224 COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
Sep 15, 1:22 pm
Kids ages 2 and up must wear masks at day care in NY state
In New York state, masks are now required at child care centers for children ages 2 and above and for all staff and visitors, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a tweet Wednesday.
“These universal mask requirements apply to anyone medically able to tolerate wearing a mask, regardless of vaccination status,” the governor said.
“With Delta on the rise, requiring masks is a key part of slowing the spread, reopening our economy safely, and protecting vulnerable New Yorkers,” Hochul tweeted. “This new mask requirement ensures that children in our child care facilities receive the same protection as children in our schools.”
Sep 15, 12:11 pm
Wendy Williams has breakthrough COVID
Talk show host Wendy Williams has a breakthrough COVID-19 case, her show said.
The new season of The Wendy Williams Show will be postponed to Oct. 4.
Sep 15, 9:53 am
FDA releases Pfizer’s data on boosters
Americans will likely need a booster shot about six months after their second vaccine dose, according to data from Pfizer that was released by the FDA.
Pfizer said it doesn’t think the delta variant surge contributed to the vaccine’s waning protection.
This data will be debated on Friday by an independent FDA panel. After a vote, the FDA is expected to formally amend its vaccine approval for Pfizer. Then the decision heads to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and finally to the CDC for sign off.
Sep 15, 8:15 am
TSA sees lowest number of travelers in 4 months
TSA agents screened 1,271,516 travelers at U.S. airports Tuesday, the lowest number since May 5.
Sep 15, 3:22 am
Alaska’s largest hospital begins rationing care amid COVID-19 surge
The largest hospital in Alaska is beginning to ration care as COVID-19 patients flood the facility.
“While we are doing our utmost, we are no longer able to provide the standard of care to each and every patient who needs our help,” Dr. Kristen Solana Walkinshaw, chief of staff at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday by The Anchorage Daily News. “The acuity and number of patients now exceeds our resources and our ability to staff beds with skilled caregivers, like nurses and respiratory therapists. We have been forced within our hospital to implement crisis standards of care.”
“What does this mean? In short, we are faced with a situation in which we must prioritize scarce resources and treatments to those patients who have the potential to benefit most,” she continued. “We have been required to develop and enact policies and procedures to ration medical care and treatments, including dialysis and specialized ventilatory support.”
Walkinshaw explained how what happens at Providence Alaska Medical Center and other hospitals in Alaska’s biggest city “impacts our entire state” because “many specialty cares can only be provided in Anchorage.”
“People from all around Alaska depend on Providence to provide medical care for people statewide. Unfortunately, we are unable to continue to meet this need; we no longer have the staff, the space or the beds,” she wrote. “Due to this scarcity, we are unable to provide lifesaving care to everyone who needs it. Our emergency room is overflowing; patients wait in their cars for hours to see a physician for emergency care. On a daily basis, our transfer center is unable to accept patients who sit in emergency rooms and hospitals across the state, people who need care their current facility is unable to provide. If you or your loved one need specialty care at Providence, such as a cardiologist, trauma surgeon or a neurosurgeon, we sadly may not have room now. There are no more staffed beds left.”
Walkinshaw urged people to wear face masks, even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and to get the vaccine if they are eligible and have not done so yet.
“We ask that you help us to open our beds again so that we may continue to care for all Alaskans,” she wrote.
Sep 14, 7:07 pm
Regeneron lands $2.94B deal with US government for more monoclonal antibodies
Regeneron has reached a $2.94 billion agreement with the federal government to supply more doses of its monoclonal antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19.
Under the new agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, Regeneron will furnish another 1.4 million doses of the treatment by the end of January 2022.
The one-dose therapy will be made available to any member of the American public who is eligible to receive it. It currently is authorized to treat COVID-19 patients ages 12 and up who have mild to moderate symptoms and are at high risk of severe illness.
The deal comes as orders of monoclonal antibodies from states have gone up 1,200% in recent weeks during the delta surge, ABC News reported last month.
Last week, the White House outlined plans to boost the average pace of weekly shipments of the treatment by 50%, as part of a new six-part strategy to combat the delta variant.
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