(NEW YORK) — The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

More than 672,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.6 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 63.6% 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. All times Eastern:

Sep 20, 12:28 pm

Average daily death count rises by 20%

In the wake of weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the U.S. is once again experiencing a surge in virus-related deaths.

The average number of deaths in the U.S. has risen to more than 1,500 per day, an increase of about 20% in the last week and nearly eight times the death average from two months ago, when the national average dropped to a near-low of 191 deaths reported each day, according to data from the CDC and the Department of Health & Human Services.

Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. are seeing increasing case averages, while seven states are experiencing increasing hospital admissions, according to the HHS.

However, overall hospitalizations in the U.S. are down, with about 10,000 fewer patients currently hospitalized compared to three weeks ago.

About 93,000 Americans are currently hospitalized. In recent weeks, there had been more than 103,000 patients receiving care across the country.

The drop is largely attributed to plummeting figures in Florida, where there are nearly 10,000 fewer patients hospitalized now, compared to a month ago.

The presence of the virus is shifting away from states in the deep South such as Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, and further into other regions of the country that were not as hard hit in the first delta surge.

Tennessee and West Virginia currently have the country’s highest case rate, followed by Alaska, South Carolina, Wyoming, Montana and Kentucky, which all have case rates above 500 per 100,000 people.

Sep 19, 2:40 pm
The FDA booster decision shows the process worked: Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci defended the White House’s plan to provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots before the Food and Drug Administration voted to only provide those shots to Americans 65 and older and immunocompromised.

Fauci told ABC This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz that he was not disappointed by the panel’s decision and he thinks the process worked.

“The goal of this particular decision was to prevent people from getting serious disease who are at risk, such as the elderly and those that have underlying conditions,” he said.

When pressed whether the president’s premature announcement would confuse Americans, Fauci said that people need to understand that such decisions depend on science and approvals by the appropriate health agencies.

“The plan was that we have to be ready to do this as soon as the decision is made and when you have a plan, you put a date on it and you say we want to be able to get ready to roll out on the week of September the 20th,” he said. “So giving that date, I don’t think was confusing.”

Sep 17, 11:22 pm
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s children test positive, he tests negative

Two of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four children have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson.

“Yesterday, two of the Governor’s children tested positive for COVID-19,” Erin Mellon, spokesperson in the governor’s office, said in a statement. “The Governor, the First Partner and their two other children have since tested negative. The family is following all COVID protocols.”

“The Newsoms continue to support masking for unvaccinated individuals indoors to stop the spread and advocate for vaccinations as the most effective way to end this pandemic,” she added.

The governor’s office did not specify which of his children tested positive but he has two sons, Hunter and Dutch, and two daughters, Montana and Brooklynn. Children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine. All of his children are under 12, though Montana turns 12 on Saturday.

The week has been an eventful one for the governor. On Tuesday, Newsom survived a recall attempt with 64% of voters choosing “no.” Removing him from office would’ve taken more than 50% voting in favor of the recall. Radio host Larry Elder was the leading candidate to replace Newsom had the effort succeeded.

Sep 17, 5:32 pm
White House to hold virtual COVID-19 summit next week  

The White House is planning to hold a virtual COVID-19 summit with world leaders next week, officials announced Friday.

President Joe Biden will convene the summit Wednesday amid the U.N. General Assembly, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The meeting will focus on “expanding and enhancing our shared efforts to defeat COVID-19,” according to Psaki, including equitable vaccine access and making therapeutics and tests more available.

More information will be available in the coming days, she said.

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