COVID-19 live updates: American Airlines to require employee vaccinations

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

More than 696,000 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 65% 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 01, 9:10 pm
US death toll surpasses 700,000

The U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpassed 700,000 Friday night, though the latest surge continues to subside.

About 1,500 new deaths are reported each day on average in the U.S. The country’s daily case average has dropped to just under 106,000 cases a day, down by about 33% in the last month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

However, that number is still significantly higher than it was three months ago.

There have been over 43 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., which means 1 in approximately every 7 Americans has tested positive, and 1 in every 469 Americans has lost their life to the virus.

Some states — like Alaska and West Virginia — are experiencing record-breaking surges, while other states — including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Texas — have an intensive care unit capacity of about 10% or less.

In other states — Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire — infection rates continue to rise.

About 97% of counties across the country are reporting “high” or “substantial” community transmission, as the country nears the grim milestone of 700,000 deaths.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 01, 7:38 pm
American Airlines to require employee vaccinations

American Airlines told employees Friday that all U.S.-based employees and certain international crew members must be vaccinated in light of the federal vaccine mandate.

“While we are still working through the details of the federal requirements, it is clear that team members who choose to remain unvaccinated will not be able to work at American Airlines,” CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom wrote in a letter obtained by ABC News.

Those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons “can request an accommodation,” they continued.

No deadline was set.

Reuters reported Friday that the White House has pressed U.S. airline CEOs to mandate vaccines for staff by early December.

Delta Air Lines said in a statement Friday that 84% of its employees were vaccinated and the airline continues “to evaluate the administration’s plan.”

Southwest Airlines said it “continues to strongly encourage employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

United Airlines has already put in place a vaccine mandate; 99.5% of its U.S.-based employees are vaccinated.

-ABC News’ Mina Kaji

Oct 01, 6:48 pm
‘Aladdin’ performances through Oct. 10 now canceled

“Aladdin” is canceling additional Broadway performances after more COVID-19 cases were detected among the company, the show announced Friday.

The musical returned Tuesday for the first time since Broadway closed for the pandemic, though Wednesday night’s performance was canceled after breakthrough COVID-19 cases among the company were confirmed.

“Aladdin” was back Thursday night, though now all performances through Oct. 10 will be canceled after more breakthrough cases were detected Friday, the show said.

“We apologize for the disappointment and inconvenience this causes ticket holders, but we trust that audiences will agree that safety must be at the forefront of our return to Broadway,” the show said in a statement on its website.

Members undergo PCR tests six times a week and are required to be vaccinated.

Oct 01, 5:20 pm
Deadline for NYC school employees to get vaccinated passes

The deadline for New York City public school employees has passed: At least 90% of public school employees are vaccinated, including 93% of teachers and 98% of principals, according to the Department of Education.

About 500 employees have been granted an exemption, representing .03% of the workforce.

Employees who did not provide proof of vaccination by 5 p.m. on Friday will be moved to Leave Without Pay status. Employees who get vaccinated this weekend and provide proof of vaccination on Monday may report to work as usual.

The DOE said 9,000 vaccinated substitute teachers are on standby.

Oct 01, 5:04 pm
US death toll set to surpass 700,000

The U.S. death toll is set to surpass 700,000, though the latest surge continues to subside.

About 1,500 new deaths are reported each day on average in the U.S. The country’s daily case average has dropped to just under 106,000 cases a day, down by about 33% in the last month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

However, that number is still significantly higher than it was three months ago.

There have been almost 43.4 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., which means 1 in approximately every 7 Americans has tested positive, and 1 in every 469 Americans has lost their life to the virus.

Some states — like Alaska and West Virginia — are experiencing record-breaking surges, while other states — including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Texas — have an intensive care unit capacity of about 10% or less.

In other states — Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire — infection rates continue to rise.

About 97% of counties across the country are reporting “high” or “substantial” community transmission, as the country nears the grim milestone of 700,000 deaths.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 01, 3:02 pm
White House COVID-19 team on rapid testing, vaccine updates

The White House COVID-19 team told ABC News that they are aiming to double the number of rapid tests available at market within the next two months.

“You’re right that the at-home rapid test is under a lot of demand,” said White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients. “The manufacturing is scaling up significantly, doubling across the next couple of months, and we’re just going to keep at it to encourage those manufacturers to increase capacity and to drive down the cost of those tests.”

Zients added: “Overall, we’ll continue to pull every level we can to further expand the manufacturing and the production of these tests in order to make them more widely available, and to drive down the cost per test.” He did not offer further specifics.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy also said that the shots for children ages 5 to 11 are “on the horizon.” Murthy deferred to the FDA and CDC’s  “rigorous review process” and independent advisory panels to determine further absolutes.

The White House team urges Americans not to let their guard down even though the latest surge of COVID-19 may be subsiding. White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that it is not an excuse for unvaccinated Americans to remain unvaccinated.

“I think that the people who are unvaccinated, when they see the curve starting to come down, that is not a reason to remain unvaccinated, because if you want to ensure that we get down to a very low level and that we don’t re-surge again,” Fauci said. “We still gotta get a very large proportion of those 70 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not been vaccinated, we’ve got to get them vaccinated.”

-ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik

Oct 01, 2:11 pm
California to require COVID-19 vaccine for all students

California will be the first state to require the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible students, faculty and staff in public and private schools. Gov. Gavin Newsom says that the COVID-19 vaccine will be one of 11 vaccines required to attend schools in California.

The vaccine will be required at the start of the upcoming school term following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the vaccines. Terms begin in January and July.

The government has only fully approved the COVID-19 vaccine for those 16 and over.

School staff will be required to be vaccinated on the same timeline as grades 7-12, the earliest group to see full FDA approval.

There are exemptions for medical reasons and for personal and religious beliefs.

-ABC News’ Matthew Fuhrman

Oct 01, 12:20 pm
Vaccine acceptance at high amid delta surge: Polls

Polls found that coronavirus vaccine acceptance is at a high — with surveys finding 80% to 82% of people say they have been vaccinated or are likely to get vaccinated. These are the highest percentages [since the vaccine rollout began] ().

The CDC reports that 77% of adults have gotten at least one vaccine dose.

Vaccinations have gone up since August, and a study by [health policy research organization Kaiser Family Foundation] () indicates that gaps by race and ethnicity are almost eliminated — 73% of Hispanics, 71% of white people and 70% of Black people are said to be vaccinated.

However, vaccine gaps persist across party lines — KFF found that 90% of Democrats say they’ve gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 68% of independents and 58% of Republicans.

However, unvaccinated people continue to express doubts concerning the vaccines’ effectiveness and resistance to vaccine mandates in the workplace.

In a poll by [the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index] (), 71% of unvaccinated Americans believe that the vaccine booster shots and breakthrough infections are signs that vaccines are not as effective as they are said to be.

Only about 29% of unvaccinated workers say they would get a shot if their employer mandates it, according to the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Oct 01, 8:35 am
Merck announces virus-fighting breakthrough in pill form

Merck Thursday morning announced the results of an ongoing Phase 3 study of an antiviral pill that may slash the risk of being hospitalized or dying of the virus by 50%.

The study’s results are so compelling that an independent monitoring board recommended, in consultation with the FDA, ending the trial early so the companies can swiftly seek authorization.

Read the full story here.

Sep 30, 4:33 pm
Daily hospital admissions down 32% in last month

Since the beginning of September, the U.S. has seen a drop of more than 27,000 patients in hospitals across the country, according to federal data. A little less than half of those patients come from Florida.

Daily hospital admissions are down by nearly 15% in the last week and by 32% in the last month, according to federal data.

The country’s daily case average has fallen to 107,000 — a 33% drop in the last month. However, about 97% of counties are still reporting “high” or “substantial” community transmission.

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