COVID-19 live updates: Average daily death count rises 20%, officials say


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

More than 672,000 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 63.6% 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 20, 1:55 pm

CVS to hire 25,000 in preparation for flu season, booster shots 

CVS Health is launching a major hiring spree to fill 25,000 clinical and retail jobs in preparation for an expected increase in vaccine and testing demand in the months ahead.

The move is in anticipation of the need for COVID-19 booster shots and flu vaccines.

The positions will largely be for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and nurses at their retail locations to be filled “as soon as possible,” the company announced Monday.

Pharmacy executives predict a far greater staffing need than usual this year, especially should flu season get severe and if COVID-19 boosters become authorized for more expanded groups. Pharmacies are also hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s scenes of slammed testing sites and the chaotic start to the vaccine rollout.

“Every flu season we need additional team members,” said Neela Montgomery, the executive vice president of CVS health and the president of CVS Pharmacy. “But this year we’re looking for even more. With the continued presence of COVID-19 in our communities, we’re estimating a much greater need for pharmacists, trained pharmacy technicians, nurses, and retail store associates. These jobs offer a rewarding opportunity to really make an impact on public health in our country.”

A virtual hiring event Friday will spearhead the recruiting push.

Sep 20, 12:56 pm

Booster shot recommendations still unclear, says acting FDA commissioner 

There is still uncertainty and questions to be answered regarding whether all Americans will be recommended to receive booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, said acting U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock.

Woodcock spoke with former senior White House COVID-19 response adviser Andy Slavitt on his podcast program “The Bubble” on Monday, raising questions on what the booster shots may or may not do and discussing any uncertainties that could have factored into the FDA’s decision to recommend boosters only for high-risk Americans and those over the age of 65.

Right now, the FDA does not know enough about how an additional shot will impact transmissibility or about cellular immunity and whether T-cells are protected, among other factors, Woodcock said.

“Basically the FDA decision is, do the overall benefits outweigh the potential harms for any given vaccination and that’s how to proceed,” Woodcock said. “But obviously individuals benefit from not having a transmissible virus circulating around.”

Sep 20, 12:28 pm

Average daily death count rises by 20%

In the wake of weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the U.S. is once again experiencing a surge in virus-related deaths.

The average number of deaths in the U.S. has risen to more than 1,500 per day, an increase of about 20% in the last week and nearly eight times the death average from two months ago, when the national average dropped to a near-low of 191 deaths reported each day, according to data from the CDC and the Department of Health & Human Services.

Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. are seeing increasing case averages, while seven states are experiencing increasing hospital admissions, according to the HHS.

However, overall hospitalizations in the U.S. are down, with about 10,000 fewer patients currently hospitalized compared to three weeks ago.

About 93,000 Americans are currently hospitalized. In recent weeks, there had been more than 103,000 patients receiving care across the country.

The drop is largely attributed to plummeting figures in Florida, where there are nearly 10,000 fewer patients hospitalized now, compared to a month ago.

The presence of the virus is shifting away from states in the deep South such as Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, and further into other regions of the country that were not as hard hit in the first delta surge.

Tennessee and West Virginia currently have the country’s highest case rate, followed by Alaska, South Carolina, Wyoming, Montana and Kentucky, which all have case rates above 500 per 100,000 people.

Sep 19, 2:40 pm
The FDA booster decision shows the process worked: Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci defended the White House’s plan to provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots before the Food and Drug Administration voted to only provide those shots to Americans 65 and older and immunocompromised.

Fauci told ABC This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz that he was not disappointed by the panel’s decision and he thinks the process worked.

“The goal of this particular decision was to prevent people from getting serious disease who are at risk, such as the elderly and those that have underlying conditions,” he said.

When pressed whether the president’s premature announcement would confuse Americans, Fauci said that people need to understand that such decisions depend on science and approvals by the appropriate health agencies.

“The plan was that we have to be ready to do this as soon as the decision is made and when you have a plan, you put a date on it and you say we want to be able to get ready to roll out on the week of September the 20th,” he said. “So giving that date, I don’t think was confusing.”

Sep 17, 11:22 pm
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s children test positive, he tests negative

Two of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four children have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson.

“Yesterday, two of the Governor’s children tested positive for COVID-19,” Erin Mellon, spokesperson in the governor’s office, said in a statement. “The Governor, the First Partner and their two other children have since tested negative. The family is following all COVID protocols.”

“The Newsoms continue to support masking for unvaccinated individuals indoors to stop the spread and advocate for vaccinations as the most effective way to end this pandemic,” she added.

The governor’s office did not specify which of his children tested positive but he has two sons, Hunter and Dutch, and two daughters, Montana and Brooklynn. Children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine. All of his children are under 12, though Montana turns 12 on Saturday.

The week has been an eventful one for the governor. On Tuesday, Newsom survived a recall attempt with 64% of voters choosing “no.” Removing him from office would’ve taken more than 50% voting in favor of the recall. Radio host Larry Elder was the leading candidate to replace Newsom had the effort succeeded.

Sep 17, 5:32 pm
White House to hold virtual COVID-19 summit next week  

The White House is planning to hold a virtual COVID-19 summit with world leaders next week, officials announced Friday.

President Joe Biden will convene the summit Wednesday amid the U.N. General Assembly, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The meeting will focus on “expanding and enhancing our shared efforts to defeat COVID-19,” according to Psaki, including equitable vaccine access and making therapeutics and tests more available.

More information will be available in the coming days, she said.

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