COVID-19 live updates: One state’s daily cases up by nearly 2,500% since mid-July

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(NEW YORK) — The United States has been facing a COVID-19 surge as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.

More than 693,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.7 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 64.9% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC.

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

Sep 29, 6:25 pm
West Virginia is in the eye if the COVID storm, governor says

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice offered yet another urgent plea Wednesday for residents to get vaccinated, as the state continues to struggle through its COVID-19 latest surge.

“There’s absolutely every reason to believe we’re right in the eye of the storm. We’re right at the peak of the surge right now,” Justice said in a news conference. “We’re going to lose a bunch more people.”

Only 48.1% of West Virginians have had one dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ICU capacity is currently at a record high, with nearly 300 patients receiving critical care, according to Justice.

“We can’t have all these people just die in vain and have this just continue to go and continue to go,” he said.

Justice explained that although he does not believe in mandates, all he can “possibly do with a good conscience,” is to continue to urge everyone in the community to get vaccinated.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Sep 29, 5:25 pm
Judge rules against NYC group suing over city worker vaccine mandate

New York City’s vaccine mandate for city workers survived another challenge in court Wednesday.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Laurence Love wrote that the argument made by the New York City Municipal Labor Committee –which represents several unions– contending that the city’s order “violates employees’ individual bodily integrity and right to refuse medical treatment,” is without merit.

“Public health concerns far outweigh the concerns of a few,” the judge wrote in the 11-page ruling.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Sep 29, 3:54 pm
Beijing 2022 Olympics tickets only available for spectators living in China’s mainland

Spectator tickets for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games will only be sold to residents of China’s mainland, according to the International Olympic Committee.

Participants who are not fully vaccinated will have to serve a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in Beijing.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Sep 29, 3:20 pm
30% of Louisiana’s new cases were among kids

Of the 1,048 new COVID-19 cases reported to Louisiana health officials since Tuesday, 30% were among children, the state’s health department said.

Louisiana currently has 952 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, state officials said.

A total of 13,900 Louisiana residents have died from COVID-19.

Sep 29, 1:32 pm
Hospitalized kids at critical level in Ohio

Ohio has the nation’s second-highest total of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 210 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state.

Children appear to be getting sicker than at previous points in the pandemic, according to front-line workers, particularly adolescents who have not been vaccinated.

Dayton Children’s Hospital is among those impacted. Hospital officials say they’ve seen a record number of patients since the end of the summer.

“[It’s] pretty hard to keep our heads above water, day in and day out,” charge nurse Will Andres told ABC News.

Another concerning trend, doctors say, is the number of children who are forced to stay alone in the hospital because their parents are also battling COVID-19.

Michele Nadolsky, a clinical team leader in the emergency room, added, “One of our biggest concerns is what’s going to happen in six months to a year from now, after [the] child has recovered from the acute illness of COVID-19, and what kind of symptoms or long-term effect is it going to have on them.”

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Sep 29, 1:01 pm
Former CDC director warns against government shutdown during pandemic

A government shutdown would sideline important cancer and infectious disease research at the CDC amid the pandemic, former CDC director Tom Frieden told ABC News.

Frieden led the CDC during the Obama administration and through the 16-day government shutdown in 2013.

“Although people who are directly responding to a pandemic would be exempt from furlough, it harms the rest of the agency and makes it harder to do everything … whether it’s answering emails, responding to requests, helping to investigate problems. It has a dampening effect on the agency being to able to do its job protecting Americans,” he said.

“The staff at the CDC have basically been fighting the pandemic for 18 months. This would add insult to injury,” Frieden said. “We had to furlough people who were working on prevention of cervical and breast cancer … on the prevention of heart attacks and strokes … on people collecting data on the health of Americans. And all of that makes people less safe and corrodes agency morale.”

-ABC News’ Ben Siegel

Sep 29, 12:37 pm
CDC urges pregnant women to get vaccinated

The CDC on Wednesday issued an urgent health advisory to try to increase vaccinations among women who are pregnant, recently pregnant or may become pregnant.

Just 31% of pregnant people have been vaccinated, the CDC said.

As of Monday, pregnant people accounted for 125,000 COVID-19 cases and 161 deaths, the CDC said.

“Cases of COVID-19 in symptomatic, pregnant people have a two-fold risk of admission into intensive care and a 70 percent increased risk of death,” the CDC said.

The agency said it’s calling “on health departments and clinicians to educate pregnant people on the benefits of vaccination and the safety of recommended vaccines.”

Sep 29, 12:16 pm
About 118 million Americans remain unvaccinated

Approximately 118 million Americans remain completely unvaccinated, including 70 million over the age of 12, according to federal data.

On Wednesday, the U.S. is likely to reach a significant vaccine milestone of 200 million adults vaccinated with at least one dose.

Alaska currently has the country’s highest infection rate with daily cases up by nearly 2,500% since mid-July, according to federal data.

West Virginia, once a model for its vaccine rollout, now has more hospitalized patients than at any point in the pandemic.

But states including Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia appear to be improving, federal data show.

Nationwide, around 79,000 people are hospitalized, down by more than 20% since the beginning of September. Even so, ICU capacities in several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky and Texas, remain at critical levels.

Sep 29, 8:44 am
United Airlines to fire 593 unvaccinated employees

United Airlines plans to immediately terminate up to 593 employees who chose not to get vaccinated under the airline’s mandate.

United said more than 99% of its employees chose to get vaccinated.

Roughly 2,000 employees sought a medical or religious exemption. Because of ongoing litigation, United said it will not reveal how many employees were granted exemptions. United says anyone who applied for an exemption will still be allowed to go to work until a final decision is made on how to handle their cases. The airline expects a decision by Oct. 15.

Sep 28, 7:29 pm
FDA approval for kids’ vaccinations could take longer: Source

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval for the Pfizer vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years old could begin in November, possibly before Thanksgiving, a federal official with knowledge of the agency’s process told ABC News.

This prediction comes after Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday kids will likely start getting vaccinated by late October.

Another official told ABC News that Pfizer has yet to complete its full submission, and that the FDA is not going to be rushed on this.

Pfizer submitted it initial data on younger children to the FDA earlier Tuesday.

The FDA already has scientists reviewing that initial data submitted by Pfizer, according to the official.

Sep 28, 5:07 pm
Forecasters expect US pandemic to continue to improve

The COVID-19 Forecast Hub’s ensemble forecast, used by the CDC, predicts that U.S. hospitalizations will continue to fall — perhaps to as low as 4,600 per day — by Oct. 11.

Forecasters say around 1,600 fewer people are likely to die over the next two weeks than during the past two weeks. In the two weeks ending Sept. 25, at least 27,755 people died from COVID-19 in the U.S. Over the next two weeks ending Oct. 19, just over 26,000 deaths are expected.

Sep 28, 4:33 pm
Pfizer CEO says timeline on shots for kids up to FDA

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told The Atlantic Tuesday that the timeline on shots for children ages 5 to 11 is up to the FDA.

“I think it’s not appropriate for me to comment how long FDA will take to review the data. They should take as much time as they think it’s appropriate for them to have high levels of comfort,” Bourla said.

“If approved, we will be ready to have the vaccine available,” he added.

Vaccines may be authorized and available for 5- to 11-year-olds in October or November.

Bourla said he thinks once kids get vaccinated, the U.S. will get a “strong push” toward herd immunity.

Bourla said he thinks booster protection from Pfizer vaccines will likely last one year.

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