COVID live updates: One region seeing highest hospitalizations in nearly 10 months

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

More than 721,000 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 15, 3:46 pm
CDC updates holiday guidance

The CDC has updated its holiday guidance, urging people to get vaccinated and to wear masks in public indoor places.

The CDC said in a statement: "We fully expect that families and friends will gather for the holidays this year and we have updated our guidance on how to best to stay safe over the holidays. The best way to minimize COVID risk and ensure that people can safely gather is to get vaccinated or get the booster if you’re eligible.”

-ABC News' Anne Flaherty

Oct 15, 1:52 pm
FDA panel votes to authorize booster shots for J&J vaccine

An independent FDA panel has voted to move forward with Johnson & Johnson vaccine boosters.

The panel’s decision on J&J was broader than for Moderna and Pfizer as it applies to all J&J recipients 18 and older. The timing is also different: The J&J booster can be administered two months after the initial shot.

The 19-person panel voted unanimously.

Johnson & Johnson's one dose has shown to be 85% effective against severe illness, but adding a second dose boosted that to 100%.

Penny Heaton, a J&J executive, acknowledged Friday that J&J’s efficacy is below the mRNA vaccines but said they would be on par if they used a booster.

-ABC News' Anne Flaherty, Cheyenne Haslett, Sasha Pezenik

Oct 15, 11:17 am
Cases creeping up in some Midwest, Northeast states

In recent weeks, cases have been creeping up in several states in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont, Montana, Michigan and Minnesota have seen their case rates jump by 20% or more in the last month, according to federal data.

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

Since the beginning of September, the U.S. has seen a drop of more than 42,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals. Daily COVID-19-related hospital admissions are also down by 8.8% in the last week, and by more than 40% in the last month, according to federal data.

West Virginia currently has the country's highest death rate, followed by Idaho and Georgia. Texas alone is reporting thousands of deaths each week.

Oct 15, 9:54 am
Vaccine requirement for foreign travelers to begin Nov. 8

Beginning Nov. 8, foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. by air and nonessential travelers crossing land borders must show proof of full vaccination to enter the U.S., the White House announced Friday.

Essential workers crossing via land, like those who come for work or school, have until January to become fully vaccinated.

Air travelers will still be required to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of departure, in addition to their vaccination status.

Oct 15, 9:12 am
FDA panel hours away from vote on J&J boosters

The independent FDA advisory panel is meeting Friday and will hold a nonbinding vote on whether the Johnson & Johnson booster shot should be used.

Officials with the National Institutes of Health will also present data Friday on whether it's safe and effective to mix-and-match vaccine booster doses.

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.

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.

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