NEW YORK) -- The United States has been facing a COVID-19 surge as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.
More than 703,000 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 65.5% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC.
-Sandra Lindsay, 1st to get vaccine in US, to get booster shot
-Francis Collins to step down as director of the National Institutes of Health
-J&J submits booster request to FDA
Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.
Oct 05, 8:06 pm
2,200 Kaiser Permanente employees on unpaid leave due to vaccine mandate
Over 2,000 Kaiser Permanente employees are on unpaid leave following the health care system's COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline, the company said Tuesday.
Kaiser Permanente's 240,000 employees had until Sept. 30 to respond to the requirement. As of Monday, 2,200 people -- about 1% of the company's workforce -- had been placed on unpaid leave for not complying, the company said.
That number has more than halved in the days since the deadline. On the morning of Oct. 1, roughly 5,000 employees were on unpaid leave.
MORE: Hundreds of hospital staffers fired or suspended for refusing COVID-19 vaccine mandate
Those on unpaid leave have until Dec. 1 to get the vaccine or secure a qualified medical or religious exemption, at which point they may return to work. If they do neither, they may be eligible for termination, Kaiser Permanente spokesperson Marc Brown told ABC News.
"We hope none of our employees will choose to leave their jobs rather than be vaccinated, but we won't know with certainty until then," Brown said. "We will continue to work with this group of employees to allay concerns and educate them about the vaccines, their benefits, and risks."
-ABC News' Sasha Pezenik
Oct 05, 5:47 pm
FDA could authorize vaccine for young kids soon after Oct. 26 meeting, vaccine chief says
The Food and Drug Administration could issue an emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 soon after Oct. 26, when the agency's advisory committee plans to discuss Pfizer's data, the FDA's vaccine chief said Tuesday.
Dr. Peter Marks couldn't give an exact day, but said the FDA has "a track record of trying to move relatively swiftly" after these committee meetings and feels the weight of the world -- and then some -- to get this done.
"When we did the adult approval, we felt the weight of the world," Marks told ABC News during the Q&A portion of a town hall hosted by the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project. "Here, we feel like the weight of the world, plus the weight of Mars on top of us, or some other planet as well."
"This is clearly one of the most important issues to get done so we're not going to be wasting any time," he added.
Marks said he's confident that the FDA will would have all necessary data from Pfizer in time for the meeting.
Last month, Pfizer said data shows its vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11.
-ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett
Oct 05, 4:16 pm
Fauci: Caution still needed this holiday season
Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging caution this holiday season, particularly if people remain unvaccinated.
On ABC News Live’s “The Breakdown” Tuesday, when pressed on mixing unvaccinated kids with adults during Thanksgiving and Christmas, Fauci said it’s safe to be with your "core" family but "not to mix with people who you don't know what their status is."
The CDC is expected to release more detailed guidance on the holidays “soon.”
Fauci said fatalities will likely start falling soon as cases and hospitalizations decreases. However, Fauci, said, "in order to avoid any subsequent surges, it would be very important to get a lot more people vaccinated."
Fauci added that he predicts more vaccine mandates at the local level.
"I don't think you're going to see a total central mandate from the federal government to everyone but you're going to see -- I'll almost guarantee it -- that the local enterprises, local organizations, local universities and colleges are going to continue to expand this whole process of mandating," Fauci said.
-ABC News' Anne Flaherty
Oct 05, 3:54 pm
More people are getting booster shots than 1st doses
More Americans are now receiving booster shots every day than first doses, according to federal data. About 418,000 Americans receive their third dose on average each day versus nearly 263,000 who get their first dose.
Alaska currently has the country's highest COVID-19 case rate, followed by North Dakota, West Virginia, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, according to federal data.
Hospitalizations are falling. About 70,000 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospitals across the country, a massive drop from late August when there were more than 104,000 patients.
But four states -- Alabama, Georgia, Idaho and Texas -- still have ICU capacities of about 10% or less, according to the data.
-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos
Oct 05, 3:24 pm
Forecasters predict falling cases, hospitalizations, deaths
Forecasts used by the CDC predict falling cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks in the U.S.
The COVID-19 Forecast Hub's ensemble forecast predicts 22,686 people in the U.S. will die over the next two weeks. If that happens, it would mark more than 4,400 fewer deaths than in the previous two weeks.
ABC News' Brian Hartman
Oct 05, 2:44 pm
Sandra Lindsay, 1st to get vaccine in US, to get booster shot
New York nurse Sandra Lindsay, the first person in the U.S. to get a COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial, plans to get her Pfizer booster dose Wednesday at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.
Other health care workers who also got their first shots in December are planning to join her in getting boosters on Wednesday.
Oct 05, 2:24 pm
Extremists likely to target health care sector as vaccine mandates spread
The Department of Homeland Security this week issued an intel notice warning that extremists, including white supremacists and other would-be domestic terrorists, are likely to “threaten violence or plot against healthcare personnel, facilities, and public officials in response to renewed and expanding COVID-19 mitigation measures.”
The document, distributed Monday to U.S. law enforcement and government agencies and obtained by ABC News, noted that anti-vaccine messaging will likely increase as vaccine mandates spread.
The notice warns that some of the misinformation and disinformation now circulating is being pushed and promoted by Russia, China and Iran as a means of sowing anger and discord in the U.S.
ABC News' Josh Margolin
Oct 05, 12:32 pm
76% of 12+ population has at least 1 vaccine dose
Seventy-six percent of Americans ages 12 and above have had at least one vaccine dose, White House COVID-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar said Tuesday.
Now 65% of the total U.S. population has had at least one dose, he said.
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