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COVID-19 live updates: US at ‘inflection point’ heading into winter months

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(NEW YORK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 751,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

Just 68% 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 05, 9:49 am
Hospital admissions on the rise in 9 states from Alaska to New Hampshire

The U.S. has seen a drop of nearly 60,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals over the last two months. Many of those patients come from large Southern states, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to federal data.

But nine states -- Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Utah -- have seen a major increase in hospital admissions over the last two weeks.

Daily infections are trending up in what the Department of Health and Human Services classifies as Region 1 (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) and Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), according to federal data.

Nov 05, 8:02 am
Pfizer pill reduces risk of being hospitalized or dying by 89%: Company

A course of pills developed by Pfizer called PAXLOVID can slash the risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19 by 89% if taken within three days of developing symptoms, according to results released Friday by the pharmaceutical company.

In a study of more than 1,200 COVID-19 patients with a higher risk of developing serious illness, people who took Pfizer's pills were far less likely to end up in the hospital compared to people who got placebo pills.

None of the people who got the real pills died, but 10 people who got placebo pills died, according to results summarized in a Pfizer press release.

Infectious disease experts cautioned these results are preliminary -- only described in a press release and not in a peer-reviewed medical journal -- but they represent another promising development in the search for effective and easy-to-administer COVID-19 pills.

Nov 04, 7:20 pm
US at 'inflection point' heading into winter months

The U.S. is at an "inflection point" heading into the colder winter months, the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said this week in its latest COVID-19 forecast.

Throughout the fall, increases in case incidence were mostly concentrated in areas with poor vaccination rates, such as in communities across Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. However, there is growing concern among experts that both colder weather and an increase in indoor gatherings, such as over Halloween weekend, will "further drive increases in COVID-19 transmission over the next couple of weeks."

The U.S. is likely at a critical moment for more highly vaccinated areas with colder weather and holiday gatherings approaching, according to the group.

"The coming weeks will reveal whether other highly vaccinated regions in the West, Midwest, and Northeast can maintain steady incidence rates -- and more importantly stable or declining hospitalizations -- amidst the increasing pressure of even colder weather and more gatherings," experts wrote.

Nov 04, 3:21 pm
Alaska, Montana lead US infection rate

Despite boasting high vaccination rates, several Northern states, particularly in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast, continue to see their case numbers tick up as the weather gets colder, according to federal data.

Alaska currently has the country's highest infection rate, followed by Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.

The U.S. daily death average, though down from 1,800 deaths reported each day in September, remains around 1,100 -- which is nearly six-times higher than mid-June, according to federal data.

Nov 04, 2:49 pm
Indiana governor plans on lawsuit challenging federal vaccine mandate

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he's directing the state's labor department to "work with the Attorney General on a lawsuit challenging the federal government" in the wake of the Biden administration's announcement that large businesses must begin enforcing a vaccine-or-test mandate Jan. 4.

Holcomb in a statement Thursday called Biden's plan "an overreach of the government’s role."

"While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this federal government approach is unprecedented and will bring about harmful, unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce," he said.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts also said he'd "fight" the mandate.

"If this rule is allowed to take effect, many Nebraskans will be at risk of losing their jobs over something that should remain a personal health choice," Ricketts said in a statement. "I have been in communication with the Attorney General today, who will be taking the lead on Nebraska’s legal review of the potentially illegal federal vaccine mandate. We will fight back."

The vaccine mandates for businesses with 100 or more workers is a part of a sweeping new federal plan that identifies COVID-19 as an occupational hazard in the workplace. Industry groups had pressed the administration to give businesses extra time, warning that imposing any mandates now would exacerbate the nation’s worker shortage. The plan gives federal contractors an extra month to comply, sliding back the previously-set Dec. 8 deadline.

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