(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.
More than 632,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.4 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 60.5% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:
Aug 26, 2:41 pm
Texas sending 2,500 medical workers to support overwhelmed hospitals
Texas’ Department of State Health Services is sending 2,500 medical workers to support the state’s overwhelmed health care facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes, Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday.
This follows the 5,600 medical workers, mostly nurses and respiratory therapists, previously dispatched to the state’s hospitals.
Texas’ Department of State Health Services is also offering more medical equipment including ventilators and hospital beds, the governor said.
Texas had 13,928 COVID-19 patients in hospitals as of Wednesday evening, nearing the state’s record of 14,218 patients in January.
Aug 26, 2:17 pm
Delta employee vaccinations see massive jump
The number of Delta employees going to the airline’s on-site clinic for first vaccine doses has increased more than fivefold Thursday, just 24 hours after the company said it was raising health insurance premiums for unvaccinated employees.
Delta said Wednesday health insurance premiums for unvaccinated employees would go up by $200 per month beginning Nov. 1 to cover COVID-19 costs like potential hospitalization, which the airline says has cost it $40,000 per person on average.
Unvaccinated employees will also have to wear masks indoors and be required to take a weekly COVID test beginning Sept. 12.
-ABC News’ Sam Sweeney
Aug 26, 11:24 am
New mask, vaccine mandates announced in Illinois
In Illinois, masks will be required indoors regardless of vaccination status beginning on Monday, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday.
The governor also said that vaccines will be required for higher education personnel and students, health care workers and P-12 teachers and staff. The unvaccinated must get tested at least once per week.
“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” the governor said, adding that 95% of deaths in the state are among the unvaccinated.
Illinois is now seeing 220 patients admitted to hospitals each day, the highest since May.
Aug 26, 7:45 am
Florida sees record 26,203 new cases in a day
Florida reported 26,203 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, setting a new record for the state’s single-day case counts.
Florida’s previous all-time high was 25,957 new cases recorded on Aug. 12, according to data collected by the CDC.
The seven-day moving average of new cases per day in the Sunshine State now stands at 21,604. In total, Florida has reported more than 3.1 million confirmed cases statewide and over 42,000 deaths.
Aug 26, 5:17 am
Japan suspends 1.63 million Moderna doses over contamination concern
Japan has suspended the use of about 1.63 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine due to reported contamination, as the country grapples with surging infections.
Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., which is in charge of distributing the Moderna vaccine in Japan, said in a press release Thursday that it has received reports of foreign substances in some unused vials at multiple inoculation sites. Although some doses might have been administered, Takeda said there have been no reports of safety concerns tied to the affected vials so far.
After consulting with Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Wealth, Takeda said it decided as a safety precaution to stop using doses from three separate lots, manufactured in the same production line as the contaminated vials. The company said it has requested Moderna to conduct an emergency investigation into the issue.
For doses from non-suspended lots, Takeda urged people to check the vials for discolouration, foreign substances or other abnormalities before continuing to use. Meanwhile, the Japanese health ministry said it will work with Takeda to supply alternative doses in an effort to minimize the impact on the country’s vaccination progress.
Moderna told ABC News that it has put the 1.63 million doses on hold in Japan after being notified that some of the vials may have been contaminated. One of the three lots received “several complaints of particulate matter” in its vials, the American drugmaker said, while the two other adjacent lots were put on hold out of “an abundance of caution” and for continued assurance of quality.
According to Moderna, the manufacturing issue may have come from one of the lines used at its contract manufacturing site in Spain. The Massachusetts-based company said it is looking into the contamination reports and “proactively communicating with Japan’s health authorities and its partners as the investigation proceeds.” Moderna added that it remains “committed to working transparently and expeditiously” with its Japanese distribution partner and with regulators to address any potential concerns. No safety or efficacy concerns have been identified so far, the company said.
Moderna noted that the pause in Japan does not impact doses distributed in the United States, or put the American supply at risk in any way.
Aug 25, 8:50 pm
Pediatrician emphasizes importance of getting vaccine during pregnancy
Columbia University pediatrician Dr. Edith Bracho Sanchez spoke with ABC News’ Linsey Davis about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy and while nursing.
Recent health data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that three out of four pregnant women in the U.S. are unvaccinated, and the numbers are lower for Black pregnant women, with nine out of 10 unvaccinated.
Sanchez, who is eight months pregnant and vaccinated, told ABC News that expecting mothers are more vulnerable to diseases and the current data shows the vaccines are safe for them.
“We now know from over close to 40,000 women that there is no increased risk of miscarriage of early delivery of your baby, which are the things that worry a lot of pregnant women,” she said.
Sanchez said she did not hesitate to get her shots once she became eligible.
“I really, really hope that pregnant women out there hear this call and go ahead and get themselves this vaccine and protect themselves, their baby and their pregnancy,” she said.
Aug 25, 8:27 pm
High school football dies from COVID
A high school football player in Louisiana who contracted the coronavirus died Wednesday, ABC affiliate WBRZ reported.
Patrick Sanders, 14, was a freshman at Baker High School.
Baker, Louisiana Mayor Darnell Waites told the station that the teen’s death highlighted the importance of vaccinations.
“If we want to save lives, we have to make the choice to save lives,” Waites told the station. “This wasn’t his fault.”
The rest of the football team is currently quarantining, WBRZ reported.
Aug 25, 8:27 pm
Texas hospital numbers near record high
The Texas Health Department reported Wednesday that 13,928 COVID-19 patients are currently in Texas Hospitals.
This is close to the record 14,218 patients recorded during the January peak.
There are 306 available ICU beds in the state, according to the health department.
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