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COVID-19 updates: CDC panel hours away from vote on Moderna, J&J boosters

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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 730,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.9 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 66.8% 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 21, 3:14 pm

Hospital admissions on the decline

COVID-19 hospital admissions in the U.S. have dropped by about 9.7% in the last week, according to federal data.

Death rates are also falling, though they remain persistently high, with an average of just under 1,250 Americans dying from the virus each day, according to the data.

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

The U.S. is currently averaging around 76,000 new cases per day, down from 160,000 in early September. Despite boasting high vaccination rates, several Northern states continue to see cases tick up as the weather gets colder.

-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 21, 2:56 pm

US vaccination initiation average at one of its lowest points

The U.S. vaccination initiation average is at one of its lowest points since the introduction of vaccines nearly 10 months ago, according to federal data. Just over 182,000 Americans are receiving their first dose each day, while roughly 335,000 Americans are receiving a booster shot each day.

More than 112.5 million Americans remain unvaccinated and about 64.3 million of the unvaccinated are over the age of 12, and thus currently eligible for a shot, according to federal data. 

The FDA authorized boosters for Moderna and J&J late Wednesday. The Moderna booster is authorized for adults 65 and older and those at high-risk. The J&J booster is authorized for adults at least two months after their primary vaccination.

The FDA said it's OK to mix a booster but did not say any booster combination was preferred over another.

-ABC News' Sony Salzman, Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 21, 8:53 am
CDC panel hours away from vote on Moderna, J&J boosters

A CDC committee is meeting Thursday to discuss and vote on booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as if people can mix and match their booster doses.

On Wednesday evening, the FDA authorized Moderna and J&J boosters for some people and allowed for the mixing and matching booster doses.

The next step of the process is for the CDC panel to deliberate and ultimately vote on whether to recommend those boosters, and whether to allow mixing and matching. The CDC panel vote is expected around 4:30 p.m.

After the panel vote, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will make the final decision, likely within one day. The panel's vote is nonbinding and the CDC is not required to follow the panel's recommendations.

Boosting for eligible Moderna and J&J recipients would be able to start once Walensky gives the greenlight.

The FDA has made it clear that there is no preferred booster vaccine for the mixed dosage, but the CDC panel on Thursday is likely to discuss available data on what booster blend might offer the strongest immunity.

Oct 21, 1:01 am
US delivers 200M vaccine doses globally: White House

The U.S. has now donated and delivered 200 million COVID-19 vaccines globally, according to a White House official.

The figure is part of 1.1 billion doses President Joe Biden has pledged to more than 100 countries around the world.

"These 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have helped bring health and hope to millions of people, but our work is far from over," Samantha Power, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is assisting in the global vaccine effort, said in a statement. "To end the pandemic, and prevent the emergence of new variants, as well as future outbreaks within our nation’s borders, we must continue to do our part to help vaccinate the world."

The Biden administration has received criticism for getting Americans booster shots while many around the world have yet to get one. Though the White House has insisted the U.S. can provide boosters to its citizens while funneling doses overseas -- and working to increase vaccine production abroad.

Oct 20, 10:09 pm
US deaths estimated to continue to fall in weeks ahead, though thousands more lost

Forecast models used by the CDC are predicting that weekly COVID-19 death totals in the U.S. will likely continue to drop in the weeks to come, though thousands of Americans are still expected to lose their lives to the virus.

The model expects approximately 18,000 deaths to occur in the next two weeks, with a total of around 757,000 deaths recorded in the U.S. by Nov. 13.

The ensemble model estimates that 19 states and territories of the U.S. have a greater than 50% chance of having more deaths in the next two weeks compared to the past two weeks, and that four states and territories (Alaska, Nebraska, Ohio and American Samoa) have a greater than 75% chance of an increase over the next two weeks.

Oct 20, 5:21 pm
FDA authorizes booster shots for Moderna, J&J vaccines

The FDA authorized booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for some populations Wednesday.

Moderna's vaccine can be administered at least six months after the second dose for people ages 65 and up and those ages 18 through 64 who either are at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection or have occupational exposure to the virus, the FDA said.

The J&J booster can be administered at least two months after the single-dose shot to those ages 18 and up, the agency said.

The FDA, which authorized Pfizer's booster dose last month, also said it will allow people to mix booster doses.

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