National News from ABC

COVID-19 live updates: Masks cut virus incidence by 53%, new analysis finds

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(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.1 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 768,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 68.9% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

Nov 19, 6:26 pm
New studies show risks of COVID-19 during pregnancy

Two new studies published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday add further evidence of the risks COVID-19 poses during pregnancy — especially during the delta surge.

One study found the risk of stillbirth was nearly doubled among pregnant women with COVID-19 compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. The risk of stillbirth increased as the highly transmissible delta variant took hold across the nation. The risk of stillbirth is now four times greater — up from one-and-a-half times greater — since the delta variant first appeared.

The other study found that pregnant women with COVID-19 were more likely to die compared with non-pregnant women of similar ages who were also infected. The study, which looked specifically at infections in Mississippi, also found that the delta surge made things worse. Pre-delta, roughly five out of 1,000 pregnant women with COVID-19 died during pregnancy; during delta’s predominance, the rate was 25 per 1,000.

The latest studies reinforce the urgent call for pregnant people to get vaccinated, though only 35% were fully vaccinated prior to or during their pregnancies, in the most recent count by the CDC. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and recommended for pregnant people.

-ABC News’ Lauren Joseph and Sony Salzman

Nov 19, 5:59 pm
CDC director gives final greenlight on boosters

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky has endorsed the CDC advisory committee’s recommendation for Modern and Pfizer vaccine boosters for all recipients ages 18 and older who were vaccinated at least six months ago.

“After critical scientific evaluation, today’s unanimous decision carefully considered the current state of the pandemic, the latest vaccine effectiveness data over time, and review of safety data from people who have already received a COVID-19 primary vaccine series and booster,” Walensky said in a statement Friday evening, hours after the committee’s recommendation. “Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people’s protection against infection and severe outcomes and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays. Based on the compelling evidence, all adults over 18 should now have equitable access to a COVID-19 booster dose.”

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Nov 19, 3:29 pm
CDC panel votes unanimously for boosters for all adults

The CDC’s independent advisory committee on Fridayvoted unanimously to recommend that everyone 18 and older who was vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago can get a booster.

The FDA authorized Pfizer and Moderna boosters for all adults earlier on Friday.

The last step in the regulatory process will be CDC director Rochelle Walensky issuing her recommendation.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Nov 19, 11:34 am
US cases up nearly 40% since October

The U.S. is currently averaging more than 88,000 new cases per day — a nearly 40% increase since late-October, according to federal data. This increase marks the first surge in daily national cases after nearly 10 weeks of declines.

Michigan, which is now reporting more cases than at any other point in the pandemic, has the nation’s highest infection rate, followed by Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Vermont. Puerto Rico, Florida and Hawaii have the nation’s lowest infection rate, according to federal data.

One in every 427 Americans has died from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Over the last month, the U.S. has reported nearly 37,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to federal data.

Wyoming currently has the country’s highest death rate, followed by Montana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Idaho, according to federal data.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Nov 19, 11:00 am
Fauci hopeful vaccine could be available for kids under 5 next year

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he’s hopeful the vaccine could be available for children under 5 next year, but studies can’t be rushed, making an exact timeline uncertain.

“Hopefully within a reasonably short period of time, likely the beginning of next year in 2022, in the first quarter of 2022, it will be available to them,” Fauci told Insider, adding, “Can’t guarantee it, you’ve got to do the clinical trial.”

Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine trials are already underway but the company hasn’t submitted any clinical trial data to the FDA for kids under 5 yet. Pfizer previously said it could have topline data readouts as soon as the fourth quarter of this year, but that doesn’t mean the vaccine would be authorized right away.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett, Sony Salzman

Nov 19, 8:45 am
FDA authorizes Moderna and Pfizer boosters for all adults

The FDA on Friday said it has authorized Pfizer and Moderna boosters for all adults, six months after the second shot.

“With boosters, more adults will now have the opportunity to help preserve a high-level of protection against this disease,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

“This emergency use authorization comes at a critical time as we enter the winter months and face increasing COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations across the country,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.

As for next steps, the CDC’s independent advisory committee is meeting Friday afternoon to discuss boosters for all.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky will issue CDC recommendations, which is the last step in the regulatory process.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Nov 19, 6:35 am
Austria to enter full lockdown, make vaccination mandatory

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Friday that the country will go into a full nationwide lockdown to curb a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.

“We do not want a fifth wave,” Schallenberg warned.

The lockdown will begin Monday and last for at least 10 days before the situation is reassessed. If the number of new COVID-19 cases has not dropped significantly, the lockdown can be extended to a maximum of 20 days.

Under the restrictions, people will be told to work from home, non-essential shops will close and public gatherings will be canceled. Schools will remain open for students who require in-person learning, but parents have been asked to keep their children at home if possible.

COVID-19 vaccination will also become mandatory by law in Austria, starting on Feb. 1.

It’s the first country in Europe to make COVID-19 vaccines compulsory and the first to reimpose a full lockdown this winter, as the continent grapples with rising infections.

The Austrian government had initially imposed a nationwide lockdown only for the unvaccinated that began last Monday.

Nov 18, 9:11 pm
Masks cut COVID-19 incidence by 53%, new analysis finds

Mask-wearing cuts COVID-19 incidence by 53%, according to a new analysis that pooled results from multiple studies.

The analysis, published Thursday in the medical journal The BMJ, found that mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing were all effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The bulk of the studies included in the analysis were conducted before mass vaccinations. The researchers, who were from several universities in Australia, Scotland and China, said that more studies are needed to understand the effectiveness of these public health measures in the context of widespread vaccination coverage.

-ABC News’ Guy Davies, Esra Demirel and Sony Salzman

Nov 18, 2:19 pm
Northeast, Midwest see biggest jump in cases, hospitalizations

The Northeast and Midwest are seeing the largest jump in cases and hospitalizations, according to federal data.

Twenty-seven states have seen at least a 10% jump in daily cases over the last two weeks: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, New York City, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Eighteen states have seen at least a 10% increase in hospital admissions over the last week: Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Nov 18, 12:27 pm
Florida governor signs legislation prohibiting private employer vaccine mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed legislation that prohibits private employer vaccine mandates and says employers that violate the ruling will be fined.

The legislation also states educational institutions can’t require students to be vaccinated; school districts can’t have face mask policies or quarantine healthy students; and families can “sue violating school districts.”

“Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in a statement.

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