National News from ABC

COVID-19 live updates: Hospitalizations drop but deaths remain high

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

More than 708,000 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 65.8% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC.

Latest headlines:
-Biden: Vaccination requirements result in more people getting vaccinated
-Hospitalizations drop but deaths remain high
-Pfizer submits kids vaccine emergency use authorization request to FDA

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Oct 07, 7:21 pm
Florida to sanction 8 school districts for mask mandates  

The Florida Board of Education has authorized the state's education commissioner to sanction the board members of eight school districts that have continued to require masks for students in defiance of state rules.

In the latest development in the state's battle over mask mandates, board members in Florida's largest districts -- Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward -- as well as Alachua, Brevard, Duval, Leon and Orange will have their salaries withheld following Thursday's vote, officials said.

"For nearly two months now, these school districts have barred from the school house doors thousands of children, many of whom have significant disabilities or health-related reasons that prevent them from learning with a face mask on," Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a statement.

Corcoran also slammed the Broward and Alachua districts, which were previously sanctioned in August and September, for accepting funds from the Biden administration to make up for lost paychecks, calling it "political bailouts from federal co-conspirators."

-ABC News' Will McDuffie

Oct 07, 4:14 pm
Biden: Vaccination requirements result in more people getting vaccinated

COVID-19 cases are down 40% and hospitalizations have dropped 25% in the last month, President Joe Biden said Thursday during a visit to Illinois to promote vaccinations.

In the month since Biden announced a six-part plan to fight COVID-19, the president said there's been "real progress across the board," including with vaccine equity.

Biden said recent data shows Latino Americans, Black Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans are vaccinated at comparable rates to white Americans.

"Our work on equity isn't done, but it is an important piece of progress," he said.

Biden said a new report released Thursday shows vaccination requirements result in more people getting vaccinated.

"In the past few weeks, as more and more organizations have implemented their own requirements, they've seen vaccination rates rise dramatically," Biden said. "For example, the Department of Defense has gone from 67% of active duty forces being vaccinated to 97%. … We're also seeing this at colleges… We're going to see it in health systems around the country."

Vaccination rates are also good for the economy as they help send people back to work, Biden said.

Oct 07, 1:37 pm
78% of adults have had 1 dose: White House

Seventy-eight percent of adults have now had at least one vaccine dose, White House COVID-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar tweeted.

Oct 07, 12:35 pm
Hospitalizations drop but deaths remain high

Hospitalizations in the U.S. have dropped from 104,000 to about 69,000 over the last five weeks, according to federal data.

More than a third of the drop was in Florida, where there are about 13,000 fewer patients compared to just over one month ago.

Daily COVID-19-related hospital admissions are also down nationally by 13.6% in the last week, according to federal data.

But states like Alaska and West Virginia, are still experiencing record-breaking surges, while Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Idaho and Texas still have ICU capacities near 10%.

Overnight, the U.S. reported nearly 2,000 COVID-19 related fatalities.

Around 1,400 virus-related deaths are being reported each day, which is nearly 7.5 times higher than in mid-July, according to federal data.

Texas is reporting thousands of deaths each week.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 07, 9:00 am
United expects travel surge in December

United Airlines expects a travel surge and plans to fly 3,500 daily domestic flights in December, making it the largest schedule since the start of the pandemic.

Flight searches for the holidays are up 16% on the airline's website and app compared to 2019.

Florida and ski resorts are expected to be the hottest destinations.

ABC News' Sam Sweeney

 

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