COVID-19 live updates: 1 region seeing highest hospitalizations in nearly 10 months

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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 719,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.8 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 66.2% 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:

Oct 14, 7:18 pm
CDC advising states to preorder Pfizer’s vaccine for young children

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising states to order Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine doses for children ages 5 to 11 ahead of a vote on its authorization.

An independent Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is scheduled to discuss the vaccine on Oct. 26, and a vote is expected soon after. In planning documents posted by the CDC, the agency is advising states to order their doses in advance of the meeting, with preorders starting Oct. 20.

This is meant to “ensure that vaccine can be placed in many locations nationwide, making it easier for children to get vaccinated” and “allow for a manageable and equitable launch,” the CDC said.

A decision from the CDC on recommending the vaccine is not likely until early November; the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3.

-ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik

Oct 14, 3:17 pm
FDA panel votes in support of authorizing Moderna booster

The independent FDA advisory panel on Thursday voted unanimously to authorize Moderna vaccine boosters for Americans 65 and older, anyone 18 and older with underlying conditions and those frequently exposed to the virus through work or home life.

The recommendation is in line with what the FDA and CDC authorized for Pfizer booster shots last month.

The FDA panel will meet on Friday on J&J boosters. Following next week’s meetings from the CDC’s independent advisory group, Moderna and J&J boosters could be authorized and recommended for specific populations as soon as Oct. 22.

-ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik, Cheyenne Haslett

Oct 14, 3:02 pm
White House to donate 17 million J&J doses to African Union

When President Joe Biden meets with his Kenyan counterpart in the Oval Office Thursday, he’ll announce a one-time donation of over 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union. This is in addition to the 50 million doses the U.S. has already donated to the African Union.

“We are hopeful this donation will help AU countries build vaccination programs and get shots into arms,” the White House said.

The doses will ship immediately.

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky

Oct 14, 2:03 pm
Region sees hospitalizations at highest point in nearly 10 months

Alaska currently has the country’s highest infection rate, followed by Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia and Idaho, according to federal data.

In the Department of Health and Human Services’ Mountain Region – which includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming — hospital admissions are at their highest point in nearly 10 months, according to federal data.

In the last five weeks, Michigan daily cases have nearly doubled and Minnesota daily cases have nearly tripled, according to federal data.

In New Hampshire and Vermont, daily cases are up by 40% and 43% respectively in the last month.

Over the last month, the U.S. has reported more than 47,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, including nearly 9,000 deaths recorded in the last week, according to federal data.

But hospital admissions have dropped by about 9.2% in the last week.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 14, 1:27 pm
Moderna says half dose will be just as effective

Dr. Jaqueline Miller, who presented data to the FDA committee on Thursday on behalf of Moderna, said the half dose works to boost antibody protections back up to the initial level.

“We chose the 50 microgram dose for the booster because we believe we should vaccinate with the lowest amount of antigen needed to induce an immune response at least equal to that in study 301 [the initial clinical study of Moderna vaccine], which was linked to vaccine efficacy of 93%,” Miller said.

Miller added that “reducing the booster dose to 50 micrograms will also increase the worldwide vaccine supply of mRNA.”

Americans who had a normal immune response to the first two shots and are getting a booster will need a half dose. But immunocompromised Americans — people receiving cancer treatment or organ transplant recipients, for example — need a full dose for their third shot to try and initiate the immune response they didn’t get from the first two.

Moderna officials said they’re preparing a letter explaining this administration to health care workers.

According to the FDA’s review of Moderna’s data, there was no evidence of increased side effects from booster doses.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Oct 14, 1:07 pm
Labor Department to issue new vaccine mandate

The U.S. is making progress in the fight against COVID-19 with daily cases and hospitalizations on the decline, but the nation must to do more to vaccinate Americans, President Joe Biden said Thursday.

The Labor Department will soon issue a vaccine mandate for workplaces with 100 or more employees, Biden said.

Biden called on more businesses to “step up” and more parents to get their children vaccinated when eligible.

“We can’t let up now,” he said.

Oct 14, 11:54 am
FDA’s independent committee hours away from vote on Moderna booster

The FDA’s independent committee is meeting on Thursday and will vote in hours on whether to greenlight the Moderna booster for: people 65 and older; people 18 and older who are at high risk of severe illness because of an underlying health condition; and people 18 and older whose job may put them at greater risk for exposure to the virus.

In introductory remarks Thursday, the FDA’s Peter Marks urged the independent panel to “harmonize” its decision with what has already been decided for Pfizer in order to avoid unnecessary confusion for the public.

Pfizer boosters have been authorized for people over 65, all adults with underlying medical conditions and adults whose job puts them at high risk.

The vote is scheduled for about 4:45 p.m.

Oct 13, 6:49 pm
Pending vaccine distribution for kids will be based on population: CDC

Initial distribution of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old will be based on a state’s population of eligible children, according to a new planning document distributed to state immunization managers by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The document, obtained by ABC News, was sent to state officials in advance of the vaccine being authorized by federal regulators. The authorization could happen as soon as early November.

The pediatric vaccine will be shipped in 100-dose packs, each with 10 vials, the document said.

A person familiar with the planned rollout told ABC News that while the government purchased 65 million doses total, the initial shipment may be closer to the 10 million to 20 million range.

After an initial distribution, a “weekly supply will be made available to help sustain the network,” according to the document.

Oct 13, 2:00 pm
COVID No. 1 cause of death for 35- to 54-year-olds in September

COVID-19 was the leading of death among people ages 35 to 54 — and the second-leading cause overall — in September, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Peterson Center on Healthcare.

The research also estimates that since June more than 90,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 could have been prevented with vaccines, and more than half of those occurred last month.

In January, COVID-19 was the nation’s No. 1 cause of death, the analysis found. In July, before the delta surge, COVID-19 briefly dropped to eighth.

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